Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Park Place

What is it about going to the park that transforms my kids from regular children into addicts searching for their next fix?

"I need to go to the park, Mommy.  When are we going to the park?  The park, Mommy.  Now!  I have to be at the park.  I need it, Mommy, I need the park!"

Cael is no better.

"I can smell the park.  I know we're close.  Take me there.  Make it happen."

If it weren't for the absence of shaking and twitching, I'd be checking for contraband in all of the juice boxes and inside the cavities of any of the less important stuffed animals in the toy closet. 

The similarities end there, I suppose.  Whereas an addict would relent and relax after finally getting their fix, Cael and Graham get even more riled up.  They run from one end to the other, yelling at the top of their lungs simply because they're allowed to do so.  They spend less than one minute reacquainting themselves with each piece of equipment despite the fact that they've visited this park countless times in their short lives.  And all the while, I plant myself in the two square feet of available shade, my head shifting back and forth like a tennis fan in the stands, and wait for the inevitable moment when I have to intervene to prevent a dramatic park emergency.

It could be an injury, like Cael's swan dive from the slide while camping.  It could even be damaged property, like when Graham nearly threw my iPhone in a nearby lake.  But the other day when we visited the park, it was the words "this spaceship is OURS!" that abruptly caught my attention.

We all know that Cael and Graham are confident about who they are and what they want.  And I'm counting on that characteristic to serve them well in adulthood, or at least in court if they ever find themselves needing defense.  But at three and five, being confident sometimes means being rude.  Or downright mean.

As I approached the spaceship, clearly a hotbed for playground activity as there were four kids crammed inside and my three (Cael, Graham and my neighbor boy) stood outside, I had already prepared my canned parenting speech.

"These kids can play here too, boys."
"Make sure you're taking turns."
"If we can't play respectfully, we'll go home."

But the closer I got, the more the picture seemed to change.  Instead of seeing my kids on the warpath, I saw the aggressive posture of the four children defending the spaceship and began to hear the dialogue taking place.

"We're in here now.  You can't come in here."

"But can't we play too?  I want to hold the steering wheel."

"No!  We have the steering wheel.  You go away."

I looked around for the kids' parents, hoping that they would intervene and I wouldn't be forced to upset either party.  But as I began to crane my neck to see the other side of the park, one of the offending children reached out with two dusty hands and shoved my sweet Graham back by the shoulders in a display of aggression much better suited for an adult than a kid of no more than four years.

Like an addict who has been sold a bad product, maybe.  I guess this wasn't his park of choice.

So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when the same child grabbed a handful of playground rock and threw it, point blank, in Graham's face. 

Oh no, he didn't.

Parents or not, I had to say something.  It's always a very fine line to walk when talking to other people's kids, but this was a completely unwarranted attack on my baby, and that's not something I tolerate.

"Whoa!  Absolutely not.  You cannot throw rocks at people-- any of you.  Someone could get really, really hurt.  Now either you need to play nicely together, or find somewhere else to play.  Understand?"

Miraculously, everyone scattered, and within five minutes, I saw the attacker and what must have been is brother being wheeled off in a jogger with their Dad at the helm.  I don't know if he witnessed the attack and my subsequent lecture, but the general mood at the park became lighter almost immediately.

Forty-five minutes later, and it was time for us to go.  After experiencing the near-rumble, Graham's launch from a fast-moving merry-go-round, four bathroom breaks, shoes covered in dog poop, several bug bites and an accidental kick to the crotch, I was sure they'd never want to visit the park again. 

"Mom, when can we go back?  I love the park.  That was the best.  Can we play with those kids again?  What a great day..."


  1. Seriously, that park is touch and go! lol. My mom had the kids there recently and she said some naughty boy was guarding that same spaceship and yelling at our kids....apparently what appeared to be the kid's grandpa was sleeping in a car nearby!

    By the way, love the new blog header....I can't get over how different their hair is!! :-)

  2. You're right! Honestly, I prefer Bryant Park because it's small and there is usually no one there, so I don't have to worry about my kids' shenanigans getting in anyone else's way. But with t-ball and soccer in full swing, and with the bugs on steroids lately, it hadn't been a great option either. This may be one of those summers where we spend too much time outside.

    Thanks about the header-- I like it too. I think there is simply no curly hair in Graham's future. He's out little genetic anomaly!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.