This one sounds ridiculous, I know, but honestly – I hate the park. It wasn’t always this way though. When my teenagers were small tots, we went to the park everyday. I was blessed to live on a street that had a park at the end of it. A lovely little playground type of park – in fact – the very same park that I played in as a child (with all the same equipment, 30 years older, I might add). My grandparents had originally lived on that street and my parents later moved to the same block when I was a young kid – so I knew this park well, it’s every crevice of child friendly, (although not by today’s standards) fun.
I took my kids there everyday for their “hit” of sand, swings and the slide. And once they were pre-schoolers we played on the merry-go-round…you know those old, circular metal objects with the many handles. An adult pushes it to get it spinning and then jumps on while the kids hold on for dear life – when they aren’t flinging off to the sides. Oh yes - had some deliriously queasy moments on that piece of equipment. I sat along the sandbox chatting to other new mothers – I call them Park Gypsies. You know – they become your best friends that afternoon - you see them once or twice after and politely ignore the fact that their rascal is throwing sand at your child’s face, mainly because you don’t have the confidence to call them out – then you don’t see them again because they move on to another park. It was a daily ritual and my children were happy and well adjusted for it.
Seven and a half years later my husband and I decide that we simply must add another precious angel to our brood. And precious she is. Vivacious and full of life…”Mama can we go to the park?” becomes the daily chant…only now I find myself cringing.
We have moved since those early days and ended up in the neighborhood of my choice, actually of my deep desiring, hundred-year-old brick homes on tree-lined streets.
After nine years of Sunday drives up and down the streets searching out the For Sale signs and looking at countless Open Houses, we found the house of our dreams, and wouldn’t you know it? I luck out. We move onto the street that has the biggest park in the neighborhood…. right at the corner. So, we go.
Suddenly, the private park bench on which I was sunning myself is swarming with new parents, all at least fifteen years younger than I, and there with their firstborns. I’m friendly (I live in a uniquely small-town-within-a city) and smile as they offer up conversation while their children play. What they don’t know is that I am working on my telepathic communication skills and begging loudly in my brain for them to stop telling me about their child’s bowel movements (is green tinged with blue normal?) or the fact that because Junior isn’t sleeping so neither are they. Do I have any suggestions? Yes - Stop talking to me! I scream silently with a frozen, yet friendly smile on my face – I don’t want to bond, I just want my kid to go down the slide three more times so that I can go home (because that was the deal and I have a fabulous freezie waiting for her there). Look at those kids on the monkey bars! Seen it – been there and done that – I want to grab my daughter and go play ball in the backyard or collect insects or even play hopscotch, I think desperately.
I feel like a bad mother sometimes, but hey –thirteen years of swings and slides! How much park can one woman endure? There are so many other adventurous things we could be doing together. I sigh with relief as she comes down for the third time. Ok Mama let’s go! She exclaims, freezie in mind.
I get up from the park bench, give a little wave and smile to the new generation of park gypsies “See you tomorrow?” they ask hopefully. I shrug my shoulders and gesture at my daughter, as though it’s actually up to her to decide. “We’ll see” I tell them, and then I’m careful to only speed walk away – not run.