When I take Babyjaan to a playground, my head implodes with the caution in the air. Here’s a sample:

Oh beta be careful, run slowly or you’ll fall. Don’t climb too high. Watch out, the floor is uneven. No, no, stay away from that. Come down, come down. Okay wait, let me hold you. Wait for me. No, no, don’t push him please. Stand in line. Eat something. Here clean your hands first. Don’t play with mud. Chhee chhee. I think you better not go on the slide, there are too many children, play next to me. Where are you going? You’ll hurt yourself if you do that. Don’t touch that, it’s dirty. There will be blood. You’ll cry. Achha, come on now, we’ve been here for 15 minutes, it’s time to go home.

I know Indian cities don’t have a very good record when it comes to outdoor play areas. Unbelievably, many cities lock up their public parks in the afternoons. And if you don’t live in a gated community with the latest candy-coloured plastic play equipment, soft rubber flooring, and a gaggle of perfectly primped toddlers, you might need to grapple with broken swings, rusty slides and pokey appendages.

Be brave, dear parents. It’s the only way to survive the urban jungle. That and regular tetanus shots. So what if your child falls? Scraped knees were a badge of honour when we were growing up (even though we had no princess Band-Aids to accessorize our scars).

Don’t let studies prove year after year that Indian children, especially girls, have forgotten the art of playing outdoors. So what if it’s a little windy. Don’t dress your children in winter clothes that ensure they will be safe because they can’t move their limbs. Budget at least an hour in the park—everyone knows children have Olympic strength energy reserves.

At a nearby park, two sisters accompanied by their grandmother or their nanny, are a permanent fixture. The younger girl, slightly older than 2 years, hangs upside down perfectly on the monkey bar. The older one, around 5 years old, clambers 6ft up a thick lamp post as Babyjaan looks on admiringly.

Make your children the stars of the playground, I say. Look away if it kills you to watch them leap.

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