Sunday, November 4, 2012

Snapshot: Sunday at the Park

Today was a hot November day in Southern California.  Just when I think we're finally gaining reprieve from fans and dress code violations, unseasonably warm weather returns.  We thought about swimming, but the allure weakened when the girls learned that the diving board was closed for fall and winter.  Off we went to the park instead, with scooters and helmets in hand.

I love going to the park to people watch.  And when I say people watch, I mainly mean parent watch.  I mean, kids are fun to watch too--kids eating sand, kids flying off the spinny thingamajig, kids awkwardly approaching one another to play, kids sighing and rolling eyes at kids (okay, at my daughter) when they (she) doesn't wait her turn for the monkey bars--but I watch parents, in part, to watch various versions of myself. 

I know a nanny who loves to post photos of moms at the park on Facebook:  moms who sit on a bench to the side while their children play.  She doesn't approve.  I confess that I'm one of those moms, most of the time, until my children enlist my involvement:  push me on the swing, please, MamaLift me so I can reach the monkey barsWatch me!  Watch me!  Watch me!  Once in a while I want to climb the rock wall, or prove to myself that I can't do monkey bars.  Otherwise, like yesterday, I prefer to lie in the grass and in the cool breeze and enjoy my children enjoying themselves.  And watch and listen to parents.

I eavesdropped on a dad sitting with another mom, talking politics:

"I mean, you've got to vote based on your current circumstances.  You can't vote on some unlikely possibility you're going to be some millionaire someday..."

"I just think it's kind of selfish to have that view..."

And, as they parted:  "I think you're actually more conservative than you think you are..."

"Oh, no I'm not!"

I cringed at the Shrill Mom censuring her son from across the park.  And then I realized all four of those boys seven years old and under were hers. 

Over by the swings, I struck up a conversation with a mother of two, one of whom has Down Syndrome.  We talked about school and teachers and classes for students with special needs. 

"I just want both my kids to be happy," she sighed. 

A sweet, teary little girl and her sister approached me when I flopped back onto the grass. "Where's my mom?" the eldest sniffled. I looked for a childless parent, and found my doppelganger, lying in the shade of a tree past the slide.  She lifted her head and waved. 

Meanwhile, in the burnished slanty sun marking the end of Daylight Savings Time, my girls and a friend made the most of the park, chasing each other, racing on scooters, sliding, climbing, swinging.  Laughing. And doing the spider: 

When we got in the car, I turned to the three girls with cherry-red cheeks in the backseat and said, "You know what it smells like in here?  It smells like sweaty kid."  And off we went for ice cream.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Just wait judgmental nanny until you have kids...I too am the sideline type. And yes, give Shrill Mom with 4 boys a break. I'm pretty sure I'm usually Shrill Mom. Boys will do that to you.