Note: I started this post over a week ago, when my husband was home and had gone to the park with me. He had Addy and I had Arden. But since he’s been gone, I’ve gone to a park with both children, on my own, and I am even more of a total basket case. But I still go because it’s better for me to be a basket case and to get them out of the house than to not go at all…it still sucks though. And I’m open to suggestions on how to make it easier.
Yesterday we went for a picnic at a park. Arden LOVES this park – and I do, too. However, it turns me into a nervous wreck.
There’s a huge wooden structure that replicates a castle. Inside the castle are turns and small openings. It’s really not that complicated, once you explore it a couple of times, but I’m sure it makes the kids feel like they’re really getting somewhere. At the top of the castle is a slide – that’s the only way to get down from the top. Otherwise, there are four exits at the bottom, and if the child exits from any of those, there are multiple other areas of the park they’re directed. This knowledge turns my stomach upside down.
Luckily, I can fit easily through the tiny doorways and “halls” of the castle, so I can go with Arden to keep an eye on him. But my stress level rises when he wants to go down the slide because I know I can’t make it to the bottom of the slide in time to meet him there (however, uh, I just though – why don’t I just go down the slide after him?? I’m an idiot…) Am I a freaking nut or what?
At one point I decided that maybe it was best to stay by the slide and wait for him to get all the way up the castle and back down again. So that’s what I did. But on about the sixth run, he didn’t come back down the slide – just as I had feared. So then a fearful decision needed to be made: Do I continue to wait by the slide, or do I go into and up into the castle to try and find him? Or, better yet, do I go to the other side of the castle to look for him in case he had ventured off into another corner of the park – and risk not being at the bottom of the slide if he just lolly-gagged his way up this time? Keep in mind, there are a lot of other children and parents at this park – it’s very popular.
I shuffled back and forth near the slide for a few seconds, desperate to find sight of him. I had to really try and contain myself. I wanted to scream for him, scream his name but I just couldn’t. Instead, I took off and hurriedly wound through the structures trying to take in the details of every child I saw, trying to weed him out. The longer it took to find him, the more scared I became. I knew I would find him, but the thought kept nagging me, what if I didn’t?
Finally, I found him, crossing a “bridge” outside of the castle. I grabbed him and got kneeled down and tried to tell him that I’d been looking for him. I had told him before letting him go into the castle by himself that he was only to go up to the top and down the slide and I was trying to scold him, make him understand that he’d disobeyed me and that I was scared because I couldn’t find him. He was OBLIVIOUS. Completely oblivious.
Ugh. What do you do? Immediately take him out of the park and go home? What’s the protocol here? I’m not opposed to doing that – I know that sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet but really, is that what I should do?
Am I to blame for being so scared someone could take him, even though chances are no one will? Or, is he to blame because he didn’t listen and do exactly as I had instructed him? He’s only three and a half, mind you. Was I asking too much from a three-year old?
This is why I hate going to the park. I am a nervous wreck. When Addy is with me I am so afraid that she’ll fall through a slat, bonk her head going down the slide, or fall off of a ladder. I can’t wait until they’re old enough that I can, if I want to, just sit on a bench and watch them play. When the only thing I’ll have to worry about is having a good view.
Maybe I shouldn’t say “I can’t wait”. That time will be here before I know it.
I really need a vacation.