You’ve heard that springtime turns a young man’s fancy to love, but it also turns a child’s fancy to the playground.
I’m sure it’s unreasonable, but it’s a little like Chinese torture to me. In the Northeast the swings, slides and other assorted gym equipment stand like frozen sentinels waiting for the spring thaw. Soon the lively chatter of moms and their children break the long winter silence. Why do little people have to pick the highest point on the jungle gym to jump from? I know it’s just to see if they can. Don’t they realize how funny I look diving across the playground to land underneath them so they don’t get hurt?
There’s always that little kid who dares to try anything. My brother was one of those. In fact, my mom met a man from the “old neighborhood” one day who inquired about her children’s health. He first asked about my oldest brother, wanting to know what he did after getting out of the Navy. Then he wondered whether I was married and did I have any children. They chatted awhile about her oldest and youngest children. But before parting ways, she asked him if he didn’t want to know about her middle son. The man’s reply was simply, “I lived across the street from ‘The Playground’, I figured there could be no way he was still alive. I watched him every day! Even in the SNOW! I didn’t figure he could have survived to be an adult.”
The difference between moms and grandmoms isn’t just our age, it’s our CCL, Crisis Concern Level. The smallest child wants to climb the highest sliding board. A grandmom’s response, “How am I ever going to fit down that sliding board with them?” The biggest child stands on top of the jungle gym. The grandmom’s response, “Why can’t they just hang below the bars? How silly will it look to follow him up there?” Tiny folks feel obligated to walk in front of moving swings, oblivious to danger. A grandmom’s response, “Can I stop the swing at the same time I lunge for the babe?”
As a kid, I took my niece to the nearby playground on a walk. I’m sure that’s colored the rest of my life’s encounters with playgrounds. I was probably nine years old and she was about three. She did the old “walking in front of a moving swing routine”. Not that it makes a difference, because impact is impact, but the swings then were made of a wooden board with cast metal edges to support the seat and attach to the chains. When that hard surface met the soft surface of my niece’s head, there was instant blood. I’m told your head bleeds so profusely because the vessels are so close to the surface. When it’s running down their face, you don’t care about the explanation, all you want to do is stop it!
In an effort to get my charge immediate help, I scooped her up and ran across the street (looking both ways first, of course) to my friend’s mother. She took one look at this sweet little blood covered child and all her blood went to her feet. As the mom’s lips turned at white as her teeth I came to the realization that this was not the place for a nine year old to be in charge. Ladies who pass out at the sight of blood should have a sign posted on their front door, “Don’t bring accident victims here unless you’re prepared to care for us both!”
My niece recovered, her mom recovered, the neighbor recovered.
I never recovered. So I still take grandchildren to the playground, but I always have a knot in my stomach when approaching the Chamber of Horrors.
I was much younger when I was a mom, I don’t comprehend how I raised my kids without making them basket cases. When their children are being super heroes trying to prove they really can fly, my girls’ reply is almost always the same, “They’re fine, mom.” As callous as it seems, it’s that moment I just have to stop watching. It’s embarrassing for my girls to watch their mom climbing the jungle gym and going down the sliding board.
If you’re a mom of little people reading this, be patient with the white haired ones. If you’re a grandmom, you probably understand. Any coping mechanisms would be appreciated for the sake of my children, my grandchildren and ME!