When we went to the playground the other day, my 2-year old son, Eddie, insisted on taking his two Elmo dolls with us. One is large and covered in red fur. The other is small and made of red cloth. Eddie placed the two dolls down on the ground and sat down on what we call The Digger, a shovel similar to a backhoe that one controls with two levers.
Next to the digger was a roundabout, a big metal disc that children run alongside and then hop on. There were two boys on the roundabout who must have been brothers as they looked almost identical. By the time Eddie got off the digger and went over to the roundabout, the two boys had moved on. Eddie placed his two Elmo dolls on the roundabout and then sat down. I grabbed one of the rails and ran around the outside of the disc to get it spinning.
My husband and I sometimes regret not having another child because we deprived Eddie of a sibling. We try to fill the void by running around with him, hiding behind trees, kicking balls, playing tag, but it's tiring. My husband and I are close to 50. We don't always have the stamina to be his siblings.
"Hold on, pal," I said, as I gave the disc a whirl.
Eddie sat in the middle for a moment spinning with his two Elmo dolls, but he quickly grew bored and tried to get off before it had stopped spinning.
"Wait," I said, and stopped the ride from moving.
He climbed down with the two dolls and went over to the swings, where the two brothers had gone. There was one boy in each swing, and their father was pushing both of them at once. Eddie stood behind them and watched. The boys soon got down from the swings and left. Eddie placed the larger Elmo doll in one of the swings and pushed once but soon saw the slides across the way. He grabbed the doll and walked over.
The slides were attached to a big plastic tree, which was hollowed out on the bottom and had a tree house on top. Eddie walked into the hollowed out bottom and placed his two Elmo dolls on the floor. He walked over to one of the windows in the tree and popped his head out.
Soon, a girl who was a lot taller than Eddie, walked into the hollowed out bottom and began talking to my son. She had an English accent and was telling Eddie that her name was Victoria, and she was 3-years-old. I couldn't hear what else she'd said, but the next thing I saw was her holding Eddie's hand and guiding him up the stairs to tree house.
People who practice yoga and other mystical things believe if you ask the universe for things, it will give them to you. After seeing those two boys together at the playground, I wished Eddie had a sibling -- and then along came Victoria. She wasn't just a playmate. She was as nurturing and avuncular as an older sister.
When Victoria reached the landing of the tree house, she stood on one side near a telescope. Eddie walked over to the other side and popped his head out a window and began calling for me.
"Why don't you come down the slide," I said.
"Nooo," he said.
I climbed up the ladder to the tree house and help him down. Victoria followed us down.
"But you can't go down yet," she said in that thick English accent. "The water is coming, and you need to stay on high ground."
She started to take Eddie's hand to guide him back up to the tree house.
"Nooo," he cried out again.
"But you mustn't stay down here. The water will be rising, and we're all going to drown," she said. "I'll take your hand, okay?
She tried to take Eddie's hand, but he shook her off. He walked over to me and took my hand and walked me over to a ladder that led up to the tree house.
"I go here," he said.
"That's pretty big, pal. That's for big kids," I said.
He ignored me and began to climb the ladder. Victoria was soon at my side, and said, "I'll go up behind him."
She scooted up the ladder behind Eddie. As he neared the top, he didn't seem to have the strength to lift his foot high enough to reach the top rung. He began to fall backward. Victoria caught him, and then I caught her.
"All right. Enough of the tree house," I said. "Let's try the swing."
Eddie didn't want to go on the baby swings, which are fully enclosed like little baskets. He wanted to ride on the regular swings. I placed him on one and told him to hold onto the metal chains. I gave him a little push and told him to then use his legs to keep up the momentum, but he didn't understand how to do that. Victoria offered to push him, but she did it in a very jerky manner, pushing him from the front rather than the back and shoving him rather than gently pushing.
"Try pushing him from behind," I told her.
She moved behind Eddie but continued to shove rather than push.
"Okay, I've got it covered," I told her, stepping in behind Eddie.
As Victoria and I stood there for a moment, Eddie suddenly fell forward onto the ground and began to cry.
"Oh, pal," I say, picking him up and cuddling him. "Where does it hurt?"
"Boo boo," he said. "Eddie crying."
"I know you're crying. Where does it hurt?" I said.
He didn't answer.
"Where is his boo boo? Why doesn't he answer?" Victoria asked, her head wedged in between me and Eddie.
"Ice," Eddie said.
I went to the car to get Eddie's lunch bag, which had ice. He held it briefly on his arm, and when he seemed sufficiently recovered, Victoria took his hand again and began pulling it.
"C'mon," she said.
"Mommy," he said, turning to look back at me as she guided him back toward the tree house.
"Victoria, I think we've had enough of the park for today," I said and took Eddie's hand.
She walked us to our car and said goodbye and rubbed the side of Eddie's arm. It was good we met Victoria, because she caught him when he nearly fell off the ladder. But she was as bossy and cloying as an older sister. As we drove off, I think Eddie was happy to be alone again.
Follow Caren Chesler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thedancingegg