(Thanks for all the well wishes on my last post. I'm feeling much, much better.)
This happened a few months back. August, actually…
I tell the kids that today, we are going on an adventure! We are going to a park that we've never been to!
My definition of adventure has changed over the years.
Anyway, I've heard good things about this park. We go to a lot of parks. By "park" I mean a constructed city or suburban park with play structures and grass. I'm still searching for the perfect one. I can pretty much always point out all the things wrong with a park. I have a whole mental checklist of safety, fun, visibility, ratio of nice to mean kids, unattentive parents or nannies and cleanliness. I'm like an undercover park inspector. I guess this means I'm a little, tiny bit critical of parks. I hate them.
So we arrive.
Here is an aerial map:
I didn't even notice the poor design at first. So just ignore that part for now.
So we arrive. Oops, I already said this. Okay. We are at the park now.
The three of us walk to the play structures together and then:
The sheep herder in me awakens. I would hate to be a real sheep herder. The stress! I can't think of a more stressful job than having to keep track of moving, living things. Making sure they are safe and getting enough to eat and all that. Wait, was I just talking about sheep herding or parenting?
I look back and forth "kid 1, kid 2, kid 1, kid 2" and then follow Crappy Baby because he is attempting to climb something metal and dangerous.
This is what I see:
I think I see him. Is that him? He keeps going behind that wall. Why would they put a wall between the play structures? Don't park designers know that parents would probably like to be able to see different sections of the park? Is it really that important to segregate the ages that you need a brick wall between the structures? Is that him? I think that is him.
My mind rattles on like this for an entire three seconds. And I turn to check Crappy Baby:
And I see him:
My heart pounding, I'm filled with that nauseating combo of adrenaline and relief. I collapse onto the cement for a moment with one arm hooked around him.
Why would they put the toddler play structure right next to a cement drop off into the pond? Don't park designers know how dangerous this is? How many kids have actually fell in? How many near heart attacks of parents has this caused?
My mind rattles on like this for an entire three seconds. And then I remember that I have another child to herd.
But this is all I see:
I don't have time for another three second mental rant about park design.
Instead, I pick up Crappy Baby to go look for Crappy Boy:
We get to the bigger kids play structure and I can't find him. I can't find him anywhere.
I circle the slides and climbing thing and I can't find him. My heart pounds. I get that panic feeling of the bottom of my stomach falling out. I feel cold and shakey.
Then I see him:
He says he is hiding.
Which I didn't know. Because he didn't tell me.
So I remind him that he has to tell the other person that he wants to play hide-and-seek.
Crappy Baby is getting squirmy again so I set him down.
And Crappy Baby simply says "water" and runs the other way. Towards the pond.
But then I hear something.
I'm saved! I'm saved by a bell. Several tinkling bells, actually.
Yes, there have been times when an ice cream truck ruined a perfectly good day at the park. When I don't have cash. When I say no because they ate cookies for breakfast. Or whatever.
But not today. Today, the ice cream truck saves a perfectly bad day at the park.
Sitting in the parked car, they enjoy their popsicles while I enjoy having them contained.
Crappy Boy expresses how much fun he had:
Exhausted and slumped in my seat, I answer:
Disclaimer: My park hatred exludes nature parks where you can go hiking and see trees and deer and all that beautiful outdoorsy stuff. I love those!