The playground is a good place to look at the future. I was there yesterday with my two grandsons; talk about future shock. The parents are all in terrible shape, without exception. One grandmom was so handicapped with her weight that she couldn’t lift her toddler up to the water spigot.
There was exactly one dad, a Brit, huffing and puffing as he tried to follow his toddler through the playscape. In the space of five minutes I counted him saying ten times, this: “That’s great honey! That’s great! Let’s go get lunch now, okay?”
Which means beer and fooball.
The half-dozen moms were glued to their phones, showing their stuff in impossibly tight workout clothes that, I can assure you, had never seen any work. The other kids had nannies. One boy, eight or nine years old, continually tried to get his nanny to engage with him at all. Sorry, dude, because phone.
My first reaction to all of this was disgust, especially as I was sprinting through the playscape, chasing my grandkids around the park, waving my arms in the air like a madman (like?), bombing down the slide after them, and generally behaving like, well, a kid. That’s what playgrounds are for, right?
But on reflection I didn’t feel so good, and not just because I slammed my ribs into a steel bar and crumpled up in a ball for a bit, providing lots of entertainment for moms and kids alike. No, the real reason I felt bad is because I was playing with my grandkids at all.
At a playground filled with kids, why weren’t the kids playing with each other? Why weren’t they chasing each other? Fighting with each other? Laughing with each other? The more I looked at it, the more bizarre it was. An entire park filled with kids, each kid paired with at least one adult if not two, and no kid able or willing to play with any other kid who wasn’t a sibling.
Kids who can’t play with kids, and grownups too lazy and unfit to meaningfully engage with their own kids? It’s not looking good, folks.
And then I saw the news …
All of my fear of the future dissipated, or at least most of it did. Here is a young woman who has been a stand-out on the bike since she began racing it, a young woman who went to Europe, snagged a world title in the Madison with Zoe Ta-Perez, and then ripped a rainbow jersey from the jaws of the continental best on their own turf.
How much more impressive does it get? This the title that Greg Lemond won, heralding his entry into the elite amateur ranks and foreshadowing his reputation as the greatest U.S. cyclist ever after Major Taylor.
Reading about the race gave me chills, and not just because it took place in brutal weather that dampened Megan not one whit. It gave me chills because when you read her comments about the race, you see a brilliantly strategic mind, one molded to win bike races after the likes of Coryn Rivera, the only American to ever win one of cycling’s monuments.
Megan’s dominance on the bike across multiple disciplines harks back to the lineage of great women bike racers who hail from the USA, including Connie Carpenter, Rebecca Twigg, Sarah Hammer, and Kristin Armstrong, women whose combined Olympic and world title exploits dwarf those of their male counterparts. Of course there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, but Megan’s thumping of the world’s best this past weekend gives cause for hope.
Lots and lots of it!
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