I can’t make trees turn into child-abducting monsters à la Poltergeist, but alas I am back indeed after a week (or so) doing flamingoish things, namely putting my wings in my ears and saying “la la la la la” when someone would mention my blog.
Sometimes, you just need a break.
This blog is dedicated to DD, a friend and former coworker who bugged me enough to get me to write this. Thanks, DD. You were always there for me when my keyboard would start smoldering and melting, or when I decided one day that I wanted a keyboard that was “clickier” than the one I had. You put up with my technological whims. Now I’m glad I can be here for you.
German and I went to a playground on Mercer Island the other day. We call it the fire engine park because of a structure that looks like … a fire engine.
On the day we went, the park was infested with Nanny State parents hell-bent on sucking all the fun out of the playground.
Here’s how it happened: So, German is running ahead of me to this awesome playground as children are wont to do. He’s far ahead of me, but I can still see him. This park is huge, and he was running in the giant grassy field to the play structure, which must have been designed by someone who hates children.
It’s all brick, steel and concrete. It’s totally awesome and old school, and German loves it. One small, newer part features the aforementioned fire engine slide and monkey bars.
When I was a kid, playgrounds were made of glass shards, twisted metal and stone. Sounds about right.
Ahead of me is some old fart of a dude, geriatric tush saggin’ in his REI multi-pocketed shorts, feet protected from this cruel world with Tevas and socks (natch).
Sprinting ahead of Gramps was his grandson, who looked to be about German’s age.
“Don’t run so fast!” Gramps yelled at his oblivious offspring, who was leaving a rooster tail of gravel in his wake.
With the social skills possessed only by children, the two kids spotted each other, didn’t bother learning names and began engaging in the favorite pastime of four-year-old boys: Monsters and chase.
I settled into my sideline spot, watching the pair tear around the brick-concrete-steel playground of death. Gramps did the same, a few yards away.
Being old and having seen the world, one might think ol’ Gramps would be all about his kin essplorin’ the world with fearless abandon.
Like a giant confused fuddy duddy, Gramps would swivel his wrinkly head around looking for the streak of motion denoting his grandson and German.
“Where did you go?!” he’d demand, baffled, as the children dashed by him.
“That was an awfully big jump!” he declared after Sonny leapt from the last tier on a big toy. The distance? Eighteen inches, give or take a few.
Between paranoid Gramps and I was a mother of two twin boys.
She was just a vision.
She was decked out in mom jeans, big puffy running shoes, a flannel shirt and (the crowning glory) a giant floppy nylon hat. Oh, and a backpack. The Urban Hiker can’t be without a backpack.
Her twins were a year and a half old, I heard her tell Gramps, and were equally fashioned in flannel and jeans. (Kurt Cobain is rolling in his grave).
She said, non-chalantly, that her and her toddlers just hiked a mile and a half at Mercer Slough. First of all, the slough is not uphill so cannot be a true hike. Secondly, who has the patience to drag babes in diapers, whose strides are no farther than a foot, a mile and a half? Not I, Urban Hiker. Not I.
While listening to her drivel, I deduced she’s one of those parents who talks about letting their kids explore and be free while warning them about razor blades in grass.
Hovering a hands-width from her precious snowflakes, she was a bubble of joykill ensuring no harm — or exploration or freedom — befalls her nestlings.
Meantime, German and Sonny are racing around like puppies. At one point, the boys chased each other onto the fire engine structure.
This is where they got all kinds of crazy, to hear Urban Hiker tell it.
German went down the slide HEAD FIRST.
This slide, which is about, oh, four feet off the ground, is enough to tighten the sphincters of many a ridiculous parent. Feet first? Maybe for your mamby pamby milk toast kid. Suck it, hiker mom.
That is a real picture of the actual slide.
Let me lay this out. German, alone, goes down head first.
Gramps huffs and puffs and gives his pacemaker a thrill.
Urban Hiker’s eyes widen as if she’s spotted a rare butterfly to tell her book group about.
This is my kid, not theirs, and they both appeared as if they were passing kidney stones.
“Oh, no no no,” declared Urban Hiker. “Feet first. Feet first sounds good to me.”
“Sorry to use my teacher voice, but I used to be a teacher,” she said with a smug nod. Gramps was dazzled at her display of maternal protection toward a chick who wasn’t her own and was left to — gasp — explore various ways to locomote on an inclined plane.
My lip curled into an Elvis-like sneer.
“German has cat-like reflexes, and I’m not worried about him going down a slide head first,” I told Urban Hiker.
“He’s a kid and this is a park,” I added, in case she forgot.
I couldn’t believe a stranger was telling my child to go down feet first.
While this was playing out, Gramps totally lost sight of his grandson. Sonny dashed away, far, far away, leaving a befuddled Gramps one Jitterbug phone call away from reporting the child missing.
Thankfully, it was time for German and I to get Caribou from school.
These people, I swear.
Parents need to realize they’re rearing human beings, and that it’s okay for them to fall down or skin a knee or eat a bug.
Poor kids will never know the thrill of … anything, I suppose.
Hope Urban Hiker can find her parental cajones on her next outing. Just put them in that backpack, right?
© Wonky Nostrils and Taming Flamingoes, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to blog author and Taming Flamingoes with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.