FF – When Doug Stopped Play

Melanie had opinions about this picture, but they were depressing and a bit repetitious, so I thought Luke and Matty might be interested in the playground instead. Unfortunately, Luke and Matty, much like my real life boys, lived through a pandemic, and the sight of a rain-soaked playground gave their Mom a very different memory you can read more about here. Still miserable, I’m afraid, but then – is there anything more forlorn than an empty playground?


Photo copyright, Roger Bultot.

When Doug Stopped Play

Even when it poured rain, we went across to the park every day. Rain never stopped play. I remember getting annoyed about it, but I bought myself raingear and handwarmers, and longed for them to be old enough to send over without me.

They’re old enough now, but we all sit inside and look out at the street instead. On rainy days, there are puddles Matty longs to jump in, and mud they would happily dig through; when the sun shines, the slides glow, calling the neighbourhood children to flout the rules, risk the world’s new Big C…

and PLAY!



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36 responses to “FF – When Doug Stopped Play

  1. Dear Jen,

    You’ve captured the fear and frustration that have come to roost. Nicely done.



    • Thanks Rochelle. A little close to home for me, so it’s almost autobiographical. The boys are home sick again today, full of colds but feeling OK. Hopefully they’ll go back tomorrow…

  2. Children gotta play 🙂 The need to be outdoors trumps the fear of contagion. And so it should.

    • And so it did, eventually, but those months under a Stay At Home order were hard for kids, and some would say needlessly so.

      • It’s still hard on kids. So much learning time lost, teachers are finding kids way behind the norms for their grade levels, especially in early elementary grades. Such a needless shame.

        • Absolutely. As my son’s Headteacher discussed recently, the last time a Grade 5 student had an uninterrupted year was Grade 1. The difference in skills should be huge, but many have barely progressed in that time. My Grade 2 son has NEVER had a full year in school. It all makes me so sad.

  3. Yeah, a lot of changes… That was my first thought, but I decided to push to the next time instead of thinking of the last.

  4. It almost seems like a surreal dream now – like did we really stop children going to play parks?!

    • So much of what happened was knee-jerk nonsense in hindsight. Science seems to have come so far since the middle ages, but we were basically brewing bats and beetles to fight this thing.

  5. I’m just hoping we don’t get another lockdown this winter.

  6. Loved the intro and your story, Jen. Got my 5th COVID jab last week, but other than that and still using Zoom a lot, one might think the pandemic is over in Texas. 🙂

  7. Seeing empty playgrounds has been so very sad. It is good to see them in use again, even if it is only one family at at time.

  8. michael1148humphris

    I find it sad, the world moves forwards, but humanity is failing to thrive.

  9. Pingback: Where Are The Children? – Gypsie’s Wonderful World of Words

  10. thank you Jen for this moving life story. Play is so essential to imagination.

  11. So depressing to think that merely playing can be risking death for kids 😦

  12. They are talking about another wave in December here. We’re all a lot more relaxed about it now, masks are only worn in aged care and health care…so I’m still stuck wearing mine! When given more freedom, bike and sports shops couldn’t keep up with demand. Everyone just wanted to get OUTSIDE! Nicely written, by the way.

  13. Pingback: The Process of Friday Fiction | elmowrites

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