Life with a weird kid is isolating. You spend a lot of time tamping down that parental anxiety when your kid is freaking out and it seems like all the other kids are sitting nicely and cooperating. You explain over and over that your kid just doesn’t like circle time or story time or most organized activities. I’ve learned over time to respect my son and the way he functions, and there are a lot of activities we simply cannot do because he can’t handle them. I’ve learned that the reason it seems like all the other kids can cope is that the parents with the weird kids are staying home. I’ve felt completely and utterly alone as seemingly everyone else went around with their perfectly normal, average kid.
On a good day in London, on our local playground where race, class, school uniforms and linguistic boundaries may as well have been built out of concrete, I was a cynic. Visiting the Diana playground was a most welcome respite from all of that. And, though I am wary of entering the treacle zone, it is a testimony to the spirit of the Lady who inspired it. This playground exists in an unlikely place and it gives some pointers, some idea of what our society could be like. Maybe even our world.
Have you ever judged a dad who hangs at the playground or brings his kid to story time? Let’s put the kibosh on it already.
A few weeks ago, my daughter Charlotte hit her friend at the park. Twice. With a stick. I was mortified. I knelt down to her level, grabbed her hands, and asked her to look at my eyes, please. She looked at the sky, at the bushes, at her feet, but refused to look at me. “Charlotte,” I repeated. “I need you to look at me please.”
A few months back, I wrote that my son had never been bullied at his Texas public school. Perhaps it was inevitable, given that Waylon is in third grade now, but a week or two later there was an incident. The story unfolded over dinner at our favorite neighborhood Texmex restaurant. Waylon was well into his second bean and cheese taco when he broached the subject. “Mom, B– said that being gay is bad.”
I oh-so-very much love family photo sessions that take place at parks and playgrounds, like this one from Natalie Champa Jennings Photography. It’s just like.. you want insta-kiddo smiles? Let them run around, swing, and be crazy!
Here I am: sitting at a play date. Let’s say this play date is at a park, where the sun is shining and the kids are giggling. No flies on the snacks, no sand has been thrown. The moms are quiet but for all outward appearances, content. In this slice of domestic bliss, it suddenly occurs to me to bring up oil fracking. If you’re in a playgroup, you’ve probably picked up the social cues dictating proper momversations.
Children have broken bones and injured themselves since time began. It used to be a sort of rite of passage for children. But, as playground equipment has become more sanitized because of so-called safety (read: liability) issues, I hear about injuries less and less. On the face of it, less injury sounds like a good thing, right? But less injury actually might mean less meaningful play and comprehensive exercise.