Yes, it’s true, I hate taking my kids to the park.
I started hating the park when I’d take my kids to go play, only to find myself a captive audience in the never ending “Watch this!” show. Not that I dislike watching my children show off an odd trick or two, but I have a hard time mustering my enthusiastic appreciation of a five year old sliding down a slide – twelve times. Fortunately, with time and support from friends, I have cured them of that. We now have a deal. The deal is I take them to a park, they play, I read my book. I am watching and will comment on extra cool things like crossing the monkey bars unassisted and will be available for the mending of all bloody scrapes, knocks on the head, and broken bones. Other than that, I’ll be on page 143, thank you very much. This is a great working deal for the girls and me, until the helicopter mothers show up.
Yes, it’s possible I look disengaged from my children because I am not standing at the bottom of the slide, under the monkey bars, or playing tag. However, I am plenty close enough to hear all of what is going on. Therefore, there is really no need to monitor my children for me. It is actually completely unnecessary for you to stand under the monkey bars for me. It is also ridiculous to interrupt my reading to ask if the children are mine. Your not so subtle hint that I should be manning the slide myself is unappreciated. Have you seen playground structures these days? Even Clara has a hard time hurting herself on them and she’s the girl who gave herself a black eye walking across a bedroom this week! I try to ignore the hovering parents but we all fold to peer pressure sometimes and inevitably, I abandon my book and go try to look excited about watching Jane slide down the slide for the 67th time.
Park hating aside, some days we just have to go. Yesterday, Ivy’s tadpole (age 10 months and nary a frog leg) died and while I disliked the “It’s boring here, can’t we got to a park” sentiment that was being thrown about, I felt bad for the girl. After dinner I made “the deal” and we trekked to the closest park (which is not that close, by the way). Unfortunately, Jane fell asleep in the car and there was absolutely no waking her when we got there. But, the park was helicopter free, I was able to read my book while Jane slept and the older girls played their hearts out. Everything went so well that we stayed a little later than we should have but at bedtime everyone happily left and went home tired and refreshed after a such a lovely park visit.
No, actually we arrived home and all hell broke loose.
Because, of course.
Of course, after refusing to rouse at the park, Jane woke up a crying, confused, tired, upset disaster. And, of course, the crying, tired, disaster wasn’t falling asleep – she just had an hour nap. And, of course, when we get back home (you know the boring place) from doing something fun, bedtime is doubly boring. So that’s why Ivy and Clara had to make necklaces instead of reading in bed when they were told. Banishing all three girls to separate rooms helped, except that then, of course, Clara couldn’t fall asleep. When I pointed out that perhaps the reason she couldn’t fall asleep was because she and Gypsy the cat were standing on the top bunk running around trying to catch a moth, of course, she fell into a heap of tears. Meanwhile, through it all, though now from my bed instead of her own, Jane was crying that she didn’t get to play in the park. So in a desperate moment I told her we’d go to the park in the morning.
And, of course, logical or not, in my mind, all the chaos was because we had gone to the *#%* park.
When morning arrived Jane, who at two never remembers anything you say unless you’d really rather she had forgotten it, woke up demanding to go to the park. John having had an unfortunate set of shifts this week and after falling in bed for five hours was already gone for the morning. So I made a plan. Here is where you should probably cringe. I was pre-eight AM with a half of cup of tea in me, I can’t hardly dress myself much less plan, but plan I did. We’d all take Ivy to school, pick up treats from the bakery and we’d go eat them at the park.
It was a a good theory, then Ivy discovered our plan in the truck. And despite the fact that she plays on playground equipment multiple times a day at school and was heading to a friend’s after school, she started the cry of “Not fair!” Somehow this turned into her instigating a fight amongst all three girls as to which park we’d be stopping at. I, still pre-eight AM, sat in a disbelieving stupor in the front seat wondering how a girl who wasn’t even involved could cause such a commotion. Finally, Ivy was dropped off, donuts and tea were in hand, the park decided on, and we got out to play (and read).
Exactly one minute and forty five seconds later Clara was done. Seems that her mother may have been right that a sweatshirt was in order for the morning. I dressed her in a spare of mine and told her that we were here to play and have fun and tossed her back on to the equipment. Exactly two minutes and fifteen seconds later Jane was done.
I gave up.
We loaded up, Clara spilled her juice all over the truck (and her doughnut) and tears ensued. By the time we were headed home I had been accidentally kicked in the head, my spare sweatshirt had turned into a mop for pink juice, Jane was covered in her own juice and chocolate sprinkles and I was vowing never to go to the park again.
Probably it’s irrational. I’m sure if I was so inclined I could pinpoint a number of more logical reasons for my misfortunes, but really, I just hate the park.