Summer is rapidly dwindling here, and with school on the horizon, I know that I'll miss the lazy, hazy days of summer. What I WON'T miss, however, are the countless trips to the playground that I somehow allow myself to be persuaded into embarking upon.
Although I adored playgrounds as a kid (remember the good old days of those metal and cement monstrosities? Those were the days...), I can safely say that as a parent, there is never a day that I enjoy taking my kids to the playground. Here are a few reasons why -- though I'll still do it for the kiddos -- I secretly dread hitting the local playground.
The Swings: There are never enough swings, which results in a frantic sprint to grab one should a seat happen to open up. A young child on the swings needs help, which means you're required to push as you mentally try to calculate the physics of just how hard you can push a three year old: enough to make it fun without accidentally launching them into the stratosphere (and if you're anything like me, you barely passed physics, inadvertently endangering your kid's life).
Your child is either one of two types: the type of child that refuses to get out of the swing even what feels like hours of pushing, and throws a tantrum when lifted off the seat. Or, your child is the type that, after being placed in the seat, decides three seconds later that he/she does NOT want to swing. Either way, you are forced to lift child from seat, resulting in one leg being stuck, & at least one shoe falling off.
(Note: Regardless of type, your child will still cry, when taken out, wanting to get back in. Because, KIDS.)
The Slide: Typically, too many toddlers want to slide down at one time, resulting in a Hunger Games scenario as they jockey for position and attempt to slide together. And there is always, ALWAYS, at least one child that insists on climbing UP the slide, resulting in mass chaos & an angry mob at the top. And if I'm at the playground, this is MY child. Repeatedly.
The Sandbox: Why? Dear God, WHY? Kids get hot, sweaty, and somehow sticky at the playground on a summer day. Then that sticky, sweaty child plops himself into a glorified litter box. And why build with the sand when you can throw it, eat it, or stow half the box in your shoe & diaper? Whose idea was this??
"Playground Pals": These are the random children that magically materialize from obscure corners of the park and decide that since I already look like a walking daycare, I'll totally watch when they holler "Watch this!"... 57 times. Or I'll help them when they're seconds away losing their grip on the OUTSIDE of the slide. And I will, but I secretly resent their oblivious parent(s) and their selfie-taking, bench-snoozing ways.
There is also an adult version of this: the adults that feel the need to strike up conversation with fellow playground parents. Don't get me wrong- I enjoy people. Usually. But if I attempt to engage in any meaningful conversation, it's similar to an air traffic controller stepping away from the screen: meaning, disaster. Chances are, some child of mine will face-plant into some hard surface, all because I was too distracted by your anecdote about how brilliant your child is because he's writing poems at age 2.
Oh, and while you're telling me this, you're not watching your kid, either. And your poetic genius is eating sand, from the salmonella sandbox. You're welcome.
They Never Want to Leave: You could be there for three, glorious, fun-filled hours, but when you finally announce that it's time to leave, someone will inevitably melt down. Even if the majority of the group complies, there's at least one that morphs into a rubber jellyfish of protest, or runs, or pouts.
And don't even get me started on the ice cream truck that happens to be strategically parked by the park entrance, every.single.time...