Return to the Playground

When the boys were little, we spent many mornings at the park. It’s where I made my first friends in our then-new hometown. So, it was a little strange when, after not going for a few years, my ten-year-old son and niece veered in while walking the dog.

They climbed, “Count how long it takes me!”…

…and swung, “Come on! Higher!”…

…and spun each other around, “Faster! Faster! No, stop! Stop! Stop!”…

The dog and I followed the path encircling the playground equipment. It brought back  memories of trailing my sons on their tricycles as they rode along that same path. Of moving from one side of the playground to the other, as they did, to make sure I was close enough in case they fell, got stuck, got their feelings hurt. Of standing, eating cold green grapes, next to the big tree they all loved to climb.

I walk past the park almost daily, but a ten-year-old body at play makes the playground look a miniature version of the one in my memory. Had my teenagers been with us, I imagine it would have seemed even smaller. You can get anywhere in a few quick steps. See everything from any bench.

Apparently, I didn’t need to follow so close back then. It would never dawn on me now to interrupt their play with “Not so fast!” “Not too far!” “Don’t jump off that…”

So, as the dog and I wandered, they happily climbed and swung and spun and squealed at each other.

And when we got home, my ten-year-old threw up all over the carpet. Too much spinning, but still the best part of his day.

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There’s Gonna Be a Rumble

They are not the Jets and the Sharks. Not the Crips and Bloods. Not even the Bad News Bears.

You know you have nerdy, good boys when they return from the park, flush from the glory of a playground fight, and the story they tell goes like this.

“There were some kids at the park, and they were total jerks. We were having a perfectly fine snowball fight with them, but then they pushed our little guy.”

“Everyone knows you can’t push the little guy.”

“So we started yelling.”

“And did you hear that one guy? He didn’t even know what a pronoun is!”

I know! And when I asked him what an adjective is, he said ‘person, place or thing.’”

I know! What a loser!”

“And they said they were 14, but I bet they were only 12.”

I know! They were totally lying!”

“’Person, place or thing’… Ha! What a jerk.”

“And mom,” said the little guy, “a tree fell right next to us.”

“A big tree.”

A Most Critical Review

I wrote a story about our dog, Star and an incident at the North Pole for my second grader. I thought he might want to illustrate it, since he likes to draw.

My older boys read it first. “Mom, this is good!”

But the second grader had major edits.

The premise is that our wild, clumsy, undisciplined Star causes Dasher to break his leg in a pick-up soccer game only seven days before Christmas. Star and her boy owner then must journey to find a substitute flying reindeer in time to save Christmas.

“But it wasn’t really Star’s fault! It was Dasher’s!”

Hmmmm….

“Dasher was the one who ran too fast and slid on the ice!”

“Good point,” I said.

“It’s not fair that everyone is mad!”

“You’re a very good editor.”

“Star wasn’t even a little bit naughty, Mom.”

“I definitely have to rewrite that part.”

“Definitely.”

Is he a natural editor, or has he had too many such playground debates? “It’s not my fault! It’s not fair! I wasn’t even that naughty!”