Once upon a time, there was a very large and important playground. It was a place that children came to from other playgrounds from many miles and kilometres away, because this playground had many advantages and the children didn’t have to pay tax on their colourful vinyl string craft supplies and other playground necessities, and there was always a generous supply of much-loved lemonade.
In fact, it seemed like the lemonade just came right out of the ground, and it made this particular very important playground very popular and prosperous.
A lot of the children worked in the lemonade business and therefore could afford very large black trucks and quads and other toys for the sandbox.
And also, the band-aids at the playground were free and there were no lineups whenever the children needed the band-aids.
The playground supervisor was much loved by the children for many, many days — 44 days that summer, to be exact. Her name was Penelope Craftmeyer. She was very powerful and quite tall and during her long time in charge of the playground, Penelope Craftmeyer built up quite an impressive place to play, a place that was much envied by other playgrounds far and wide, because of its many advantages and it’s lemonade and the very large and expensive playground shacks that Penelope Craftmeyer built from which to supervise and many band-aid buildings she created. Also, Penelope Craftmeyer and her helpers put up some nice learning centers for the many children.
But it wasn’t always wild roses at the playground, sometimes there were dandelions. Over the long 44 days, sometimes there would be too much or not enough lemonade and the whole playground would be unhappy and children wouldn’t have as many toys or games to play and there would be hardly any playground supplies. Even the colourful nylon string that the children used to make keys chains and necklaces would become expensive and the children would start to grumble.
Sometimes, when the rest of the world didn’t want the playground’s lemonade, Penelope Craftmeyer had to close down some learning centres, and the lineups at the band-aid buildings were so bad that many children weren’t even getting their scrapes and scratches fixed when they needed them to be fixed. And sometimes, when the lemonade situation was very bad, some of Penelope Craftmeyer’s fancy playground shacks from which she and her helpers supervised were made a little less fancy.
And so it was that toward the end of the long 44 days of Penelope Craftmeyer, the lemonade business was very, very bad and many children started to grumble right out loud and they started to look at Penelope Craftmeyer out of the corner of their suspicious eyes, and they started to wonder what would happen if their beloved playground had a different supervisor, perhaps one with different colored hair, and perhaps a little shorter.
And then one day, a new playground supervisor was chosen by the children. Her name was Nancy Dawn Puffinstuff, and she brought along many helpers, most of whom had never been helpers before. And many, many children who had always liked Penelope Craftmeyer and really disliked change, were afraid — very afraid. Many afraid children looked at nearby important large playgrounds that were supervised by very similar supervisors and didn’t like what they saw. And the children who were much richer than the other children and the children who owned big companies and the children who worked in the lemonade business were not pleased when they realized that Nancy Dawn Puffinstuff and her helpers said they were going to make them share.
In fact, Penelope Craftmeyer supporters told each other that they should get into the u-haul business on account of many, many children will soon be leaving this playground for other playgrounds far away. And many others are stumbling around in shock, trying to figure out ways to hide their money from Nancy Dawn Puffinstuff and worrying that all the children will eventually have to live in communes like hippies from the 1960s.
But some children are happy now. Happier than before. They say, “There’s an old saying that says: ‘Change always comes bearing gifts.’ ” And they say, give Nancy Dawn Puffinstuff and her helpers some days to see if the playground can become better and the children happier, and if that doesn’t happen, we will boot them out and see if Penelope Craftmeyer or Winifred Rumpleton are still around and still interested in supervising the playground.
And besides, said one of the children who has a badly scraped knee and has been waiting in the band-aid lineup for many, many days, that’s the way this thing we have that we call a democracy works. All the children get to choose and when they get grumpy, they get to choose change if they choose to. Sometime they choose the right to be wrong, and sometimes they choose wrong in order to be right.
But now all the children in the playground have no choice but to wait and see what happens. And in the meantime, there’s still time to climb around on the monkey bars.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.