With springtime rapidly approaching, many of us will undoubtedly find ourselves at the childhood mecca known as the playground. As delightful as it is for the kiddos, many moms will inevitably leave stressed and exhausted. Recently, I made my own list as to why that may be. So for all of us that often leave with the need for a drink (or ten), I present seven things I hate about the playground:
My least favorite apparatuses are the ones that are high up. Oh, and have hard surfaces. Which basically means I hate every one of them with the exception of the swings. I love the swings as I am in total control of the situation. Steps scare me as well. I am one of those neurotic moms that shadow her kids until they are about ten years old. I can’t help it; I have seen kids get really hurt running too fast and then falling. I prefer safer places to play. I frequently take my kids to a little botanical garden near my home and let them frolic. I love the garden. A beautiful and safe open space for the kids to run around in. We often have picnics there as well. The only problem that I face is my kids eventually get a little bored and ask to go to the playground. They want the fun stuff. I just tell them that the playground is closed for the holidays and won’t open until next year. A harmless lie never hurt anybody. However, they are four and two years old and have already figured out that their mom is completely full of it. So, it is off to the playground we go.
I will freely admit that as I have gotten older, I have definitely become more germ phobic. To be honest, I don’t really like using the restroom anywhere but in the own comfort of my home. I am not sure how and when this developed, but it did. As a child, I was one of those kids that could hold it in all day long. Thinking back, it wasn’t the healthiest thing to do, but it kept me out of public restrooms altogether. Park restrooms are notoriously gross in my neck of the woods. The whole avoiding of the restroom business becomes almost impossible during potty training. When my daughter was in the midst of her training, I was conflicted on whether I should avoid the playground altogether. Instead, I frequently gave her a pull- up to wear, which just prolonged the process. Now she is fully trained, so I need not worry. Until it is time to train my son. When it is his turn, I plan to point him to the nearest tree. Boys are easier that way.
There is just something so intimidating about seeing a bunch of women in a pack. It is a rarity to see these women by themselves; they are almost always together. It definitely brings me back to my high school days. Every time I see them my blood pressure shoots up a bit. In reality, most of these women are probably very nice, but I am way too shy. And insecure. So, I generally keep to myself or occasionally meet up with another mommy friend. I am often too busy chasing my kids on the scary apparatuses to make small talk anyways.
Babysitting Other People’s Children
When I go to the playground, I go with the sole intention of entertaining my own two children. Two kids to watch over are plenty, in my humble opinion. I always look over my children and make sure they are safe. Call me naïve, but I was under the impression that was a simple and basic responsibility for any parent. Unfortunately, I have found that not everyone is on the same page as I am. In the past few years, I have chased after a child who almost ran out of the park into the street, broke up a kiddie fight, and picked up a child who had fallen off the swings and hit his head. For every one of these instances, I am still unclear on where the parent or caregiver actually was. I really don’t mind helping out a fellow child or parent, but it does irk me when I realize that I am the only one watching over him. I often think of my own mom, who used to complain about having to watch other people’s kids. It was the teacher in her. I used to think she was exaggerating. She wasn’t.
Those Thirty Seconds When You Can’t Find Your Kid
I just saw her. A minute ago. She was very nicely playing on the jungle gym and then suddenly she was gone. I don’t think there are even words to describe how horrendous a feeling it is to be missing your child. You don’t know whether to pass out or throw up. With a racing heart and a frantic scream, I searched what felt like every inch of the playground. I looked at everybody else and wondered why nobody was helping me. Didn’t they know a child was missing? How could this happen? Those thirty seconds feel like five hours when you try to decide what to do. Should I call the cops? My husband? How could I have lost her? My whole life flashed right in front of my eyes. Then I spotted her. The blonde in the pink dress. Not too far from where she last was. I began to breathe again. Followed up by a much needed talk about playground safety and talking to strangers. I was never so happy to see a child in my whole life. And never so anxious to pop open a bottle of wine the moment I got home.
I am not even going to lie. I hate “that kid”. You know the one. He purposely sits on top of the slide for ten minutes because he knows your child wants a turn. He won’t share the fifteen toys that he brought along with him. He runs away laughing when your child tries to take his hand to play. He seems to take much delight in causing your child’s misery. There is usually little or no parental supervision for this nightmare of a kid either. In fact, it eventually becomes apparent that you are the one responsible for looking after him. (See #4).
The Assortment of Weirdos
Back in my young and carefree days, my friends frequently teased me for attracting the weirdos. Now, forty years old and a couple of children later, the same seems to be true. If there is any oddball walking around, she will most likely choose the spot on the bench next to me. And want to talk about the oddest of topics. One lady recently wanted to know if I liked her shoes. And why. It soon becomes obvious that this woman has no children; she was desperate for someone to talk to. I wish I could say that the aforementioned conversation was just an isolated incident but it wasn’t. In these cases, I have never been so grateful to have a pair of active kiddos to chase after. I will happily run after my kids. We have some fun memories to make. And they are definitely worth all the hassle. One day I will get much needed rest. But, for now, we have some dangerous playground equipment to play on.