I recently met two little girls at Hackett Park who informed me I shouldn't let my one-year-old daughter run barefoot in the sand because "there's needles and glass in there."
I gave them a puzzled look and asked how they knew that. They said their friend's mom told them, and although they never saw any needles, they often find glass.
I laughed a little at the three-year-old and five-year-old girls who were walking carefully through the sand and let my daughter run and play as she wanted.
But then the three-year-old brought a piece of glass to her Nana and I started to look carefully at the playground sand beneath my feet.
In the sand were glass, cigarette butts, beer bottle lids, discarded wrappers and even the remnants of what I hoped was a hand-rolled cigarette.
I agreed my daughter Kaitlyn shouldn't run barefoot in the sand and began to question whether or not I should even let her play there.
Before I could make a decision, Kaitlyn was chasing the other little girls at the park and trying to climb up the metal stairs to the top of the slide.
I turned my attention to steadying her awkward efforts and forgot, for the moment, about the sand below.
Once at the top of the slide, I saw another unwanted attraction - an obscenity carved into the wood. I tried to camouflage the word with my foot as the other little girls whizzed by us and scooted down the slide.
Soon a storm started brewing, and all of us had no choice but to leave the playground. I was thankful to get Kaitlyn strapped safely into her car seat and head home where I knew she could play freely.
It's a sad thought that kids have to worry about things like obscenities, needles and glass scattered throughout their playgrounds.
These are places we take our kids to enjoy themselves. The brightly coloured slides, swings and monkey bars call to children to come and play, but should we let them?
And why are people choosing to drink, smoke and do who knows what else at the playground, leaving their garbage behind for children to have to deal with?
I'm new at this playground thing, so I asked my friends if this is the norm here on the Coast. The answer was yes, but not just at playgrounds. Apparently broken glass is common at Trout Lake and at public beaches where children run barefoot to jump into the water. The beaches also often have treasures like discarded needles and used condoms. Here's what I propose. If you feel the need to party it up at public beaches and children's playgrounds, bring a pad of paper to write down your witty obscenities and take home to display on your bedroom walls. Your friends will be impressed. And if you need to drink, drink from cans. You can smash them on your head, and the compressed cans are easy to see and pick up later. Also, the lost art of head-can-smashing should be resurrected, as it always impresses the ladies.
Finally, if you're smoking or drugging, take your garbage with you. Our children don't need the added danger!
Can't we all agree that children shouldn't be put at risk by adult risky behaviour? Let's make safe places for our children to enjoy.