So there I was, hanging out at the Popular Neighborhood Play Area, minding my own business, by which I mean: MY OWN KIDS. I don't know about you, but I don't want to parent anybody else's children when hanging out at the Popular Neighborhood Play Area. It's been known to happen, of course, and when it does I blog about it. YOU ARE WELCOME.
My two excruciatingly adorable kiddos were clambering up and down the play structure, swooshing down the slide, and running over to me to hug my legs and proffer their chubby little cheeks for kisses. SO. ADORABLE. Right? There was no fighting and no whining and there I stood, congratulating myself on what an excellent job I've so obviously done in the Parenting Department. I take all credit! Where is my crown?!
One of them was sitting at the top of the slide, patiently waiting for the Shirley Temple-curled two-year-old at the bottom to remove her fanny from the slide so he could slide down. The way a slide is intended to be used. My heart fairly burst, Internet. Look at that darling little boy, waiting oh so calmly, with nary a shout or complaint!
But instead of moving her little behind, Shirley Temple started to climb up the slide. Oh dear.
Being two, she didn't get very far. Even when she realized climbing up was not going to work, she still didn't get out of the way. Then she took her pacifier out and hurled it at the slide. It slid down. Oh what fun! A new game!
Since it was a double slide, kids were still shooting down, but Jack, splendid boy that he is, was still at the top of the other side of the slide, glancing back and forth between me and Shirley Temple's mother. Who was sitting on a bench off to the side, talking with another mother, and, need I even add, totally wondrously oblivious.
Now, I don't know what YOU do in these situations, but my preferred course of action is NOTHING. I realize I could have gently guided Shirley away from the slide. I could have coaxed Jack off the slide, or negotiated a spot for him in the line for the other slide. I did none of these things, however. I prefer to have the first crack at parenting my child and assume others do too. I mean, her mother was RIGHT THERE. The situation was GLARINGLY APPARENT. It went on long enough that I probably should have just "nudged" her out of the way with a well-placed flip flop, but I didn't. I stood there staring at Shirley's mother, wondering when she was going to get a clue. Because at this point, Shirley was hurling her pacifier all over the slide, throwing herself on the ground in front of the slide and basically behaving as if the slide was entirely hers, and it was a horrible affront to her very existence that other children dared to touch it.
Finally, Shirley's mother's FRIEND noticed Shirley, and went to pick her up. As she held Shirley, my kid, no dummy, dove down the slide. Then the friend inexplicably put Shirley right back down in front of the slide and everything went back to normal - Shirley's mother went back to chatting, Shirley went back to hogging the slide.
My kids had caught on by this point, and, having ditched the slide all together, it was no longer an issue. I think I even lost track of Shirley at that point. La la la! Pretty tame as far as playground incidents go, am I right?
BUT THEN. I noticed Shirley wander a bit away from her mother and start to sort of climb on the fence. Not a big deal. She couldn't get out and I couldn't really see how she could hurt herself. I ignored it. Well, I ignored it until I heard the wailing. All out WAILING, Internet. And I looked down and to my right and there was Shirley trapped between the gap in the fence, half out, half in. STUCK.
And her mother hadn't even turned around.
With the sigh of a great and saintly martyr, I marched over to Shirley and yanked her out. Oh yes I did. She wasn't hurt, just frightened, I think. I am not a fan of getting stuck either.
The friend SORT of noticed, and began to stand up and finally - FINALLY! - the mother turned around. Feeling stupid, because 1) this wasn't my kid and 2) THIS WASN'T MY KID, I left Shirley to howl on the ground while the mother ambled over to see what was up. Then without saying ONE SINGLE WORD to the woman who rescued her daughter (ME!), without even making EYE contact, she picked up Shirley and dusted her off, put her in the stroller and away they went. It was almost as if the mother thought it was MY fault Shirley was shrieking, but you know I have a more generous and charitable soul than to think such a thing.
OH, what an irritating morning! I'm not even going to tell you about the lady in the bathroom, who had only the ONE older kid and NO stroller, who did not bother to hold the door open for me and my TWO tiny children and my one horribly ginormous double stroller and, in fact, let it slam shut on my stroller wheel. No, surely I'm a bigger person than to mention THAT.
Alas, the universe is not going to let me get away with posting this on the worldwide web for everyone else to see. Tomorrow I am totally going to run over someone with the ginormous stroller, or get caught talking on my phone while my kid steals another kid's shovel, I just know it. But I'm complainy today, all right? I'm kind of fist shaky. You know I totally space out on the job too, I just try to do it at HOME where no one can SEE. Come ON mothers of the Popular Neighborhood Play Area! GET A CLUE.