Monday, June 16, 2014

Observing The Park

A solitary woman sits on one of the benches, presumably the parent of children older than the majority of the kids running around. It's both liberating and isolating to reach that point in the playground culture. The parents with younger kids hold playgroups at the park, ensuring they have other parents to commiserate with while their children toddle around them. The few parents at the park before school is out for the day who have older children literally sit on the bench, neither wanting to be parked there but also not wanting to join in the play.

A father spots his toddler climbing the stairs, ready to catch her if her steps become unsteady. He doesn't converse with the other parents; his mind only on safety and protection. He smiles when his daughter turns toward him but his face returns to concerned concentration when she turns away. She is obviously his first and only child. His daughter leads him throughout the playground as though he were on a leash and he follows, a willing participant in her game of follow-the-leader.

There is the group of mothers standing in a tight circle, chatting. Without realizing it, they have closed ranks. No outsiders dare breach their circle. They trade stories of their current time in the trenches. Suddenly one of them looks alarmed. She can't see her child. She stands on tiptoe, then crouches, searching but not wanting to appear the overprotective mom to her peers. Just as quickly, she spies her child, safe and playing happily. It is another false alarm in a string of many before her offspring leaves the nest.

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