Iceland, more appropriately, Reykjavik, is not known for its playgrounds. Any parent who has visited the wilderness of playgrounds in the Northern VA (DC/MD) area knows that playgrounds can be done extremely well. Yes, I know, wealthy counties = great playgrounds. Not so in Iceland.
This isn't to say they don't exist, but for a country that prides itself on spending hours outdoors in all kinds of weather, they are sorely lacking in public play areas for kids. The very few areas that do exist (free of charge ) while colorful, albeit in part due to lots of graffiti, are made of wood (for what reason??) and often consist of a lone swing and a box of black sand. Sometimes they are odd wooden structures or a web of ropes strung from metal posts.
The schools generally have better playgrounds and perhaps that is the idea. Spend the money on the areas where kids spend most of their time. Whatever the case may be, we were not surprised last year when we arrived at the new home of ISI to find that their playground included an area with a see-saw, some sort of climbing/hanging structure, a pile of large rocks and logs stuck into the ground with chains running between them.
No one questioned that all were a part of the playground and it was great to have so many different areas for so many kids. The rock pile (2-3 meters high) was especially attractive, as it was large enough to hide behind, climb on or simply have a sit with several friends. The climbing part was especially enjoyed as it gave the climber a great view of the playground, soccer field and not-so-distant bay.
I know I was a little bit wary in the beginning and used to stand by it, waiting for someone to fall off, roll down or hurt themselves enough to question the theory behind such a play structure. After a while, though, I weaned myself from worry. Eight months into the school year and not one ER visit from the rock...til today.
I taught EAL until noon, sent an email and realized I better skedaddle if I wanted to hit the salad bar at the Hagkaup and make it back in time for 4th period. On my way back, the phone rang and saw that Berta was calling, but not for me to grab a Skyr for her.
Instead, she called to let me know that Caitlin had hurt herself at recess and was in the nurse's office. Most of the teachers do not excite too easily, as they know small injuries happen. However, there was urgency in her voice and the mention of the ER. I hurried back and found Caitlin with long scratches covering the left side of her face, the bottom left side swollen and cut and bleeding into a gauze pad.
Not sure what to do regarding insurance and payment (does the school pay? do we pay? do you pay?) we picked up Peter and headed straight to the slowest ER on the planet. We were eventually seen and while the bleeding had not stopped, it had slowed enough for the nurse and doctor to ascertain that she would not need stitches, but only glue on facial cuts. The cuts on the inside of her mouth would have to heal on their own, as apparently closing them up could cause a much more serious infection.
Still in a lot of pain, but thrilled to not have to get stitches, we headed for the nearest isbar for something cold that might numb her mouth without tasting medicinal. Meanwhile, I was rapidly dialing the dentist as there was a mean looking cut/bruise/something in the gum line under her front tooth (adult, of course).
Two x-rays and a thorough examination later, she was declared 'good to go' for now. She will have to have follow up x-rays in 6 weeks, but there is no apparent damage. This is especially welcome news, as we have spent so much time at the dentist recently and thankfully, he is so very good with children.
So, we have a sore and swollen, but otherwise unhurt, Caitlin. She won't be swimming or jumping on the trampoline for a few days, but school on Monday won't be an issue. While she was quite upset, I have to say, totally in line for someone who fell two meters down a pile of large, not-so-smooth Icelandic rocks.
Oh, and the rock pile? Turns out it is really some sort of sculpture. A piece of art to be admired, but not have its nooks and crannies discovered or utilized for playground meetings. While there is no hard and fast rule being handed out by the host school, you can bet Cait and her friends will be sticking to meeting elsewhere for a while!