The playground isn’t my favorite place.
I haven’t always felt like this. I used to love going there – when I was a kid.
The best was when my Uncle Don would take a bunch of the cousins. He’s a big strong, fun man and playgrounds still had merry-go-rounds. Well, just picture him pushing it at about 60 mph, kids hanging on for our lives, legs flying out, screams of delight (and fear). Man, that was fun!
I also remember swinging as high as possible – hoping I wouldn’t actually go over the top – and then jumping at the zenith of the upswing. Good times. No bones broken.
On the way home through the neighborhood, Uncle Don would, at our request, shift the car into neutral and coast until the car ran out of momentum and came to a stop. Then the kids would all jump out and push it home. Those were the days!!
I don’t really remember playground times with my mom, but I’m sure there were some. There must have been. And I think I know why.
Well, since becoming a parent myself, time at the playground has lost some of its sparkle. Okay, all of its sparkle. It’s not even that busy-body mommy bloggers are berating my type on line for opting to watch my screen rather than my kids. I don’t even have a smart phone. But, yeah, I’ll talk on my flip phone if I can find a friend who happens to have time to escape her kids right then. And, yes, knowing this discussion is out there does add a dose of guilt to an already loathsome activity.
What’s to like? There are only so many pictures of happy kids with brightly colored plastic backgrounds you need at each age. That moms take pictures of their kids at playgrounds is probably just another indication that everyone finds a playground an excruciating place to actually spend time. If you’re not a kid.
It’s not that they’re too dangerous (though, I do have to watch to make sure they don’t do something that might result in death or injury), or not dangerous enough for proper development (see the above parenthetical comment).
Maybe it’s because I go there hoping for a few minutes of kid-bliss to give me time alone in my head – and then they say, “Mommy, look at me!” or worse, “Come or push me!” I was really just hoping to be left alone for half an hour. And I can’t shout, “Just leave me alone for a minute!” because it’s public and who knows if a busy-body mommy blogger is there (or one of her disciples)judging me.
It could be that I don’t want to see another mommy there who is itching for adult company and feel obligated to engage in small talk – or, the alternative, mutually pretend you don’t see the other as our kids are becoming best friends. No, that’s not awkward.
And then there’s the fact that I’m not in my twenties – or thirties, or forties – like all the other mommies of kids the age of my kids. I’m old! When you’re an old mommy, you’re supposed to be a trough of wisdom and good example, right? But I’m not, because this is not my twelfth child. I only have two. No, I’m not her grandmother. Leave me alone.
And when you have kids at the playground, one of them is going to need the bathroom. You know how sanitary public bathrooms are in outdoor venues! If there happens to be another mom in there, it’s a chorus of “Don’t tough anything!”
Someone’s going to be thirsty or hungry, too.
And it’s always too hot. Or too cold. Except when it’s really beautiful out. There are those times too. And those moments when your child is really, really happy just swinging. The laughs at being pushed really high. The smile because we're out somewhere that was made just for kids.