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23 May 2011

Welcome to the Park.

Written by sally @ 9:02 am — Section: sally

A few months ago Spike and I were at the neighborhood park. We were doing a little swinging, a little sliding, the usual. This super-humongous pregnant lady arrived with her small daughter and her 900-year-old mother. The super-humongous lady crept very slowly to a bench, where she took a long time to sit down. Then she closed her eyes.

I watched her because her misery was palpable. I was also interested in how the 900-year old mother was dealing with the small daughter, and how interesting it was that the super-humongo never opened her eyes to make sure everyone had not been kidnapped or murdered or had fallen down a well. I thought this was, at once, admirable and shocking.

It had rained the night before (I brought an old towel to wipe the slides off with) and there was a giant mud puddle under one of the porch-swing-esque big swings. I thought it would be fun to sit on the big swing with Spike, so I put him on the swing and then assessed how best to get myself on it. The mud puddle was big enough and the swing high enough that I couldn’t just climb on without getting mud all over my shoes. So I did what any sane adult would do: I attempted to gracefully hop onto the swing.

Only I am not that graceful, and it was more of a body slam into the swing, and the force of my body slamming against the swing sent the swing a-swangin’, and thus little Spike went a-flyin’. Into the air, and then face down into the mud puddle.

After I assessed that he didn’t get mudmurdered, I looked around to see if anyone saw. The other mothers were tending to their children. The only one who was facing me was the super-humongo, and she was obviously teleporting herself to her little stone cottage in her mind. I listened to Spike rant and rave: “Don’t DO that, Mommy! We don’t fall in mud puddles! I need new shorts! I want to go home! We don’t fall in mud puddles, MOMMY!” Dirty and humiliated, we went home.

Spike and I were back at the park on Saturday afternoon (he is still leery of the big swing) and he was having a big time playing with a little girl. Their conversation was killing me:

Girl: What’s your name?
Spike: Spike. What’s your name?
Girl: Caroline. I’m two.
Spike: I’m three.
Girl: I’m a girl.
Spike: I’m a boy.

What else is there to know? Let’s quit the chatter and get to playing!

A woman with a baby strapped to her chest, her nanny holding a baby, and a toddler girl arrived. The woman looked familiar — it was super humongo! No wonder she was so miserable. She was carrying twins. In an unprecented move, I started talking to her, and for a moment I thought I had made a playground friend. I mean, besides the fact that she had a nanny — on the weekend, even! — I thought, ok, maybe.

“Your son looks familiar,” she said. “Does he go to St. Whomever?”
“No, he goes to the Other School,” I said.
“Is that a preschool?”
“It’s a preschool, but it’s a daycare. He’s been there since he was a baby.”
“Oh,” she said. “St. Whomever was really good for my daughter because it was only a few hours a week. I just thought ALL DAY was a little much for her at such a young age.”
I didn’t say anything.
“But, I mean, daycare is different!” she said.

Yep. I hear you, lady.

Then she asked her nanny, “What time does the schedule say bathtime starts?” and I thought, farewell, almost friend! You inhabit an entirely different planet than I do.

Oh, and then it was time to go and Spike didn’t want to and I had to jam him in the stroller and he was fighting me and cutting up and as I cruised out of the park with my shrieking stroller another stupid mother gave Spike a look, like OH YOU POOR THING WHAT A HORRIBLE MOTHER YOU HAVE, and I was done. Look: when I hear a kid cutting up in public, if I give anyone a look, it’s the mother. And the look I give is IT IS OK! WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER! THIS SOUND YOUR CHILD IS MAKING IS NOT INDICATIVE OF YOUR PARENTING IN GENERAL! After the daycare comment and the nanny and then THE LOOK, I was ready to treat everyone at the park to a special ride on the big swing, face down in the mud.

(By the way, Spike continued to scream for two more blocks, at which point he managed to wriggle out of the stroller straps and dangle dangerously close to the road. He wanted me to carry him, only I couldn’t because Lulu knocked me down in the driveway the day before, so I tried and I couldn’t and so we sat on the curb in front of someone’s house for awhile waiting for a miracle to happen. The miracle was Spike pushed the stroller and we walked, defeated, sweaty, and slowly, the rest of the way home.)

2 Responses to “Welcome to the Park.”

  1. poobou said:

    Your swing illustration made me laugh. A lot. Of course, so does the idea of newborns with a schedule. That lady really is on another planet.

    And I’m stunned that someone gave Spike the sympathetic look instead of you. Of course he’s having a tantrum in public! He’s 3! It’s practically his job description! The sympathetic looks are supposed to be reserved entirely for the parents, I thought everybody knew that?

  2. Liz said:

    God, this was a hilarious post. Too bad we can’t go to the park together.