When I was in elementary school, we had a very big playground. The perimeter was fenced in, plus there was a fence that ran down the middle – monkey bars, swings, and this deadly merry-go-round thingie (more on that later) on one side, the slide, teeter-totters, and a jungle gym on the other.
At recess the younger kids got one side of the playground and the older kids got the other – they would switch back and forth so we all got a chance to enjoy the instruments of death provided for our amusement and bodily harm.
Everything was asphalt, so if you fell, you were losing skin. The slide was really high and we polished it with the wax paper from our lunches to make it extra slippery (and no one thought of stopping us). The teeter-totters were also really long (and thus, you ended up really high – we all had an innate understanding of how a fulcrum worked and the damage a sudden descent would cause should your “friend” on the other end decide to jump off just for shits and giggles).
But the deadliest (and thus most popular) thing was the merry-go-round. It was circular, with two sections where you could pump it (kind of like a train hand cart – only you used your feet and arms to push and pull) to get it going fast. Generally, two kids per push/pull section. Also, kids would push it from the outside to help it go faster. And the stupidest of us would push from inside – certain death if you stumbled, which was always a possibility because you also had to jump over the bars that held the whole thing together. There’s a photo below – only we didn’t have that huge metal grate over the top to keep you from getting in that area, because, where’s the fun in that?
So all of that, is just so I can tell this story:
The winter I was in first grade, there was a third grader, the son of the local Sunday School teacher, who was big for his age, and mean for any age.
He liked nothing better than to pick on the little kids.
One recess, he decided he was going to commandeer the merry-go-round.
He started pushing kids off of it.
I was having none of it.
I was angry.
This was not fair.
(I was too young to have learned yet that life is not fair, in fact, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color assured me each week that life was, indeed, fair.)
So I organized some of my classmates to pick up chunks of ice (this was Michigan winter, remember) and we started pelting him with ice chunks.
I am sure it hurt. A lot.
I didn’t care.
He went running to the nearest teacher.
The teacher asked him what he was doing on the little kid side of the playground, and basically told him he got what he deserved.
And we didn’t get into any trouble at all.
So in that one shining moment of my (misspent) youth, life was fair; just like Mr. Disney told me it was.