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Storming the (Playground) Hill

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Parent Service Organization (PSO) at Five Acre School puts on a Soup Social at the start of every school year. It’s a great time to get to know all the new faces joining the school community. It’s also a handy source for a great dinner (a particularly good spread this year, I thought), and, of course, it’s the time when the PSO introduces itself.

hillstorm1Part of this year’s Soup Social was also the much anticipated opening of “the Hill” (the playground hill had been newly renovated over the summer, and while the water feature was inaugurated on opening day, students have been kept off since then so that the new sod could grow in). Big plans for the opening were made. Grownups strategically placed to pull stakes and part ribbons, sincere words at the ready about the PSO’s hard work and great fun in sponsoring the renovation – you know, one of those moments when a group gets to say, “Check out what we’ve accomplished, and what you can accomplish with us!” A good and well deserved PR moment for the Parent Service Organization.

So Ashley (PSO Co-Chair) and Anna (Volunteer Coordinator) did get some lovely introductions and thank you’s out. But waiting not so patiently among the adults during their brief elaborations was a small battalion of children, all eyeing the Hill. The embedded slide. The rocky waterways. The balancing logs and fresh wood chips. Virgin grass that was in desperate need of trampling and rolling on (that grass was so lush it would have put an Irish Spring soap commercial to shame!).

hillstorm2It was about at this moment of anticipatory tension that Ashley and Anna made a crucial error in vocabulary (bless their hearts!). With the full intention of laying into that brief moment of PSO Public Relations, they said, “And now we’re going to open up the hill…” Well, the kids didn’t know that the PSO had more to say. “HILL” was all that little battalion needed to hear, and up they stormed! Past Anna and Ashley’s surprised faces, past the buffet, past the strategically placed ribbon-guards they charged. Grownups and ribbons alike had no chance of holding them back, nor did anyone really want to. Within ten seconds, the hill was so full of children that the bright, Irish Spring grass was awash with a sea of colorful kids like a big pile of rolling jelly-bellies.

“That is so appropriate!,” one mom grinned at the edge of the chaos. And the charge was not made by kids alone (at least physiologically speaking). There were a good number of dads in the mix as well, getting into the physics of new irrigation possibilities between the hill and the sand box. And all of them making a wet, sloppy mess in the process. Planning might be mostly for grownups, but play is for all ages.