Playground Lessons

Today I got to do something I don't normally get to do: Sleep beyond the sound of my alarm clock. Really, I could do that on any other day. To do so, however, would mean missingclass or work. Neither are good options. Even without an alarm clock, I still wake up at 6 am.

Like most people in public safety, that IS what sleeping in looks like. The morning is a bright summer day. Yet, it’s not hot and sticky yet. A perfect day for taking my 5-year-old daughter, Baby Girl, to the playground. The playgrounds I went to as a kid hadscorching, metal slides that could cook an egg in the summer time. The swing sets normally had 4swings, with 3 missing or broken. These days, my kid gets to enjoy playgrounds that really are an amusement parks without the admission price.

At the playground we go to today, it’s amazing. It’s really 4 – 5 large playgrounds within 20 feet of each other. They have themes like pirate ships and dinosaurs. Never mind slides. One of them actually has a zip line that allows my kid to travel between the monkey bars and some other contraption I can’t describe. Most importantly, there are swings. A whole row of them. They are on the outer edge of the playground. And they all work!

Swings are one of Baby Girl’s favorite parts of the playground. Still, using swings is a new concept. She says, “Can you just push me?” and I explain “Big Girl, I want you to do it all by yourself. You’ll have more fun that way.” I talk her through the motions. Feet forward, then back. Lean in and back. We spend about 10 mins of swinging sideways and turning in circles. After some good laughs,I finally get in the swing next to her and show her how it's done. Watching me, she mimics what I'm doing and starts to get the hang of it. She's not necessarily on her way to the Olympic trials in playground swings. But she should be able to have fun at the playground. 

How often are you the example of how to do something? The reason the phrase “Actions speak louder than words” is so true, is because people don’t think in words. They think in pictures and movies. Getting a mental picture or mental movie into a person’s mind is key to getting understanding. At times, this can be done with words. Other times, you just have to get on the swings. Make being an example apart of your ordinary day, and watch it have an extraordinary impact.

 About the Author

NICK BASKERVILLE has had the honor of serving in the United States Air Force for 10 years, followed by 4 years in the United States Air Force Reserves. He attained the rank of Technical Sergeant (E-6). Nick also has 16 years of fire service time, with 13 years of that being in a career department in Northern Virginia. Nick has had the opportunity to hold positions in the Company Officer's section of the Virginia Fire Chief's Association (VFCA), The Virginia Fire Officer's Academy (VFOA) staff, and in the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (IABPFF) as a chapter president, a Health and Wellness committee member, and one of the IABPFF representatives to the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance.