Jurassic Park

JurassicPark

There’s something so magical about that first, perfect day. Just warm enough to venture outdoors without coats, but, without the oppressive heat of summer. The sun shines and children beg to return to the parks.

Just one problem. I hate the park. I’m not talking about your general run of the mill distaste. I mean, hate. Burning flames of the sun hatred.

With our first, we have delightful video of her swinging at our local playground with gleeful clapping and the sing-song voices of adoring parents in the background. Then we had our second and we have sporadic pictures of us attempting to picnic at a park while I hold our son and my husband chases after our daughter. Then, our third arrived and mild park inconvenience grew to danger. With four, the park is a hot, plastic death trap. As soon as we arrive, they explode into four, opposite stations while I stand stunned and screaming, “STAY WHERE I CAN SEE YOU!” A nearby park bench taunts me implying that one day I may very well sit here, but, not today or any day soon. Thanks for the reminder, you wooden asshole.

As one of my children attempts to climb a completely vertical ten foot rock wall cushioned by pavement, I’ll find the other about to be pushed down a slide by a child I call Lucifer for the rest of our visit. Generally, one is hiding in or behind a tree, which is great, because I’m not getting any cardiovascular exercise except being scared to near death.

None of our local parks are fenced so I have the option of letting them run toward a busy street, a bustling parking lot or, going for gold, and allowing them to play in whatever standing water can be found on the park premises. As I become “that mother” yet again, I make a mental note to google the chances of contracting malaria as the toddler runs over, screaming, to alert me that Lucifer has thrown sand in her eyes. Oh, and no, that isn’t a Lincoln Log in the sandbox.

I see mothers chatting with hot cups of coffee in their hands. They see me leaping over wood chips and tire swings to grab the baby while a child comes barreling down a slide she’s trying to climb.

After years of botched attempts, I am waving the white flag of surrender. While it may be a place of solace for several parents, it is nothing but a land of unruly equipment and wild beasts to me. All parks are the Jurassic Park. Gnashing of small teeth, injuries and a good chance I may just be eaten by a wild animal while in the park restroom. And, just like Jurassic Park, a good time in theory. In reality, the survivors must be helicoptered off of the island.

But even with my near perfect record of park disasters, I am reminded almost daily that the park is a quintessential part of childhood. It is the go-to suggestion of parents and children alike. Many a potential playdate have gone array with an almost audible record scratch as their suggestion of, “Let’s take the kids to the park!” is met with my, “Oh, the park. I try to avoid it like the bubonic plague.” It is always in these moments that I wonder if looks can truly kill and if I will ever sit on a park bench with a beverage, a book and complete assurance that everyone will leave with all bones intact.

Until then, we’ll be in the backyard. Happily fenced. Lucifer free.





Comments

  1. I love this post! I’m not a fan at all for the same reasons you described. It’s anything but relaxing! I spend the entire time chasing the kids around, which isn’t easy when you have multiple kids to watch. My 5 y/o has balance problems so my heart is usually pounding out of my chest watching him climb the steps to the slide. The best part is when you get to drag 3 crying kids to the car when it’s time to leave. Yeah, not my idea of a fun time.

    • Oh my God. I totally forgot to mention the Defcon level 5 meltdown when you leave the park. You are so right on.

  2. Love this post! I also despise the park. I swear, one kid, maybe it’s fun, but I have three and I’m with you. And I’m always “that mom” too, screaming and running after my kids who are nose diving for the pavement ( I swear sometimes just to see if I will catch them before they hit the ground).

    • Agreed! I’m right there with you. I feel like a cirque du soleil performer every time I go, but, with a terrible body and none of their grace or agility.

  3. I LOVE this. We are fortunate to be in an area surrounded by parks of all shapes and sizes and would frequent each one depending on the number, ages, behavioral patterns and past criminal offenses of the kids who would be going with me that day. If we were to be accompanied by unruly little friends (whom I foolishly agreed to watch in exchange for a few hours of reciprocal baby-sitting), we wiould hit the small toddler park with the rubberized ground that was far from traffic. We would definitely avoid the wonderful, large regional park surrounded by trees that contained large climbing contraptions and one of those self-propelled kiddle carousels (or as I call it, “Ring of Death”). The problem was that, as my kids got older, being four years apart, the older one would get bored of the toddler park and decide to throw wood chips instead, while the little one would attempt her Houdini disappearing trick (known to her as “hide and seek”) if we took her to a larger park. This is why park trips for us would take an hour to prepare at home and then last an actual 15 minutes on-site.

    Now that both kids are teens I can look back on our park trips and share this one valuable lesson learned the hard way: Don’t bother packing a balanced picnic lunch. Those cheese sticks and apple slices WILL end up in the sandbox.

    • Did you just say you have a toddler park with a rubberized ground? That’s it, I’m moving in. I’ll be there in time for dinner. Chicken nuggets and wine are totally acceptable. See you soon.

  4. Mother of 2. 6 years apart and I don’t have the words to express my dislike of the park. Thanks for writing what I was thinking!

  5. I hate the park more than I hate a bad case of vomit in the car on a hot summer day. I just picture the injuries and keep the ER on speed dial because I know I will either be there during our visit or a few days afterwards when one of my kids picks up dysentery from the slide. I agree with you 100% and I love you for writing this and again helping me realize I’m not alone. xoxo

    • AND, you have one more child. So, basically, I’m amazed that you guys actually venture away from your property. Vomit in the car on a hot, summer day was such a great visual. Now I’m off to scrub my eyeballs. I heart you.

  6. Lady!!! Missed you! LOVE the new site. It looks fantastic. I hear you about the anxiety – I have 2 kids who are now 3 and 4.5 – this is going to be the first summer in a while that I don’t have to worry so much about them. The park is the only place I get all free range parent (except if some big kid hurts one of my babies). And with my girlfriends there I feel like the closest I can get to a bar at 11 am. Gossip, anyone! Yes, please. What I hate is the bitchy moms who won’t talk to you, but that’s another post!

    • Congratulations on getting over the park hump. The older my kids get, the more I’m going to sit with my face in a book and hope for the best outcome. See you on the other side, sister!

  7. Oh MY word. Yes. I HATE IT. I hate it so much. And i have yet to be friends with anyone who gets it or WATCHES THEIR KID like i am watching mine, and they get all pissy because i cannot TALK, because i’m busy trying to keep my 2yr old alive. P.S. Playgrounds were also clearly created by some jackass with no children.

    • I think there should be a height requirement to enter parks like carnival rides. Because, let’s face it, the park is equally as dangerous as the tilt-a-whirl.

  8. Our park is bordered by a parking lot, the creepy movie theater, and a swiftly moving, unfenced river. “Wooden asshole” indeed – there’s a reason I literally laughed out loud at that. Actually, several reasons, chief among them being the visual image, but also because I will never, ever get to plant my ass on one. Bastard.

    • Your park sounds so magical. I don’t know what I love more, the death river or the creepy theater. Whoever zoned this knew exactly what they were doing.

  9. Love it!! Love the image of you jumping and leaping all over the playground trying to keep up with them. I agree, just stay home. People in colonial times didn’t have playgrounds and they had just as much fun!!!

    • By the way, Mia. My new go to phrase for the kids is going to be: “People in colonial times…” Thank you, a million times, for THIS. “People in colonial times didn’t have matching socks!” “People in colonial times didn’t have Play-doh!” “People in colonial times would have been burned at the stake for using an iPod!”

      • Gramma Ocean says:

        omfg, this made me lol. I am now a gramma and I love reading all your posts. No matter what age you are, or how many kids & grandkids you have, some things never change. We raised our kids on the farm, now there is a playground of death & destruction just waiting for the kids. Barns, heavy equipment, and all the junk assosiated with farms. Somehow, they all lived. I still shake my head with amasement and know that I did a great job of raising them to not end up being scarred up, crippled hunks of flesh!

  10. If you were around 8 years ago for me to read this, I probably would’ve had it laminated and shared for all moms of the world. I’m so grateful for my kids being older and they just want to go to the sport court with their friends. Curse that Lucifer kid. There’s always one.

    • Why must Lucifer always come to us in 3 year old child form? And, does that kid live at the park? I think Lucifer is a park dweller.

  11. Jennifer Shelton says:

    The park is ALWAYS a pain in the ass. I look at those parents sitting on the bench with the utmost loathing. The one gabbing on the phone or with her friends is undoubtedly Lucifer’s mother. She doesn’t bother to reprimand him because she’s not bothering to pay attention to him. My girl is tiny to be almost 3, & I have to constantly tell other young girls to stop trying to pick her up & carry her around. I also can’t stand the kids going UP the slide when there’s a playground full of kids. Am I one of the few parents who is trying to teach her children to only go down & take turns? Going up is fine if there are only a few kids, & it doesn’t impede everyone else! Now I have an almost one-year-old, & if he’s half the daredevil his sister is, I doubt I’ll be able to keep up with both of them, much less not have a heart attack or nervous breakdown before we get back home! Loved this article!

    • You and I need to park date and, by that I mean, we need to never go to the park, but, go other places together. WORD, sister. WORD.

  12. You forgot about the part with the blood on the park bench (true story). File that as Reason #485 I hate going to the park.

  13. I thought I was the only one who hated the park!!! There are some parks I have stopped going to because they are too big, too high, and too easy to lose my kids. Thank you!!!!!

    • No, THANK YOU! When I wrote this, I thought, I’m going to get a whole bunch of people telling me that I’m destroying their childhood by avoiding the park like the Black Death. Instead, I get you. And, that’s awesome.

  14. You’re speaking the Truth! My kids always try to give the hard sell of the playground, as if they think I have FUN watching them split off in different directions or that I enjoy a hardy 40 minutes of swing pushing. I think the only other thing that makes me run in panic is the WATER park. Talk about a heart attack!

    • A water park? I can’t even let my brain go there. It’s all Jaws and wedgies and terrible bathing suit choices. I just can’t.

      • Round here we have a splash pad. It’s pretty awesome. NO pooling water, just a textured (no slipping) concrete pad with a bunch of spray things, dumping buckets, and water guns. Last year I was actually able to sit on the bench for 2.3 minutes there! The one thing you still cant get away from though is the jackass Lucifer child. Really? Asshole? You thought it was that funny to spray my 2 year old baby in the face with that water cannon no matter how she tried to escape? Go pick on someone your own size! GRR! They need a tiki bar at these things!
        Anywho….your visuals are awesome, as always, love and I too hate the park. I tell my kids…we HAVE a park in our back yard!! What does the park have that we dont? (other than the Satan child?) You can even throw a fit when I tell you to come inside, if you must. <3 Devan

  15. Stephanie says:

    I can hardly stop laughing at all the visuals and yet cringing for the same reasons! I have a love-hate relationship with the park and my now 2 1/2 YO son. But I go that extra mile…during the winter and bad weather days, I’ve been known to frequent the indoor park known as the mall play area. Similar hell. Only difference is the plastic asshole everyone else enjoys.

  16. So what you’re trying to say is you don’t like the park? I don’t mind it as much as you but I only have 2. With 4 I can imagine it’s unmanageable – esp. if it’s not fenced in. And I’ve always wondered how those other moms managed to sit on the bench sipping coffee relaxing. I have never once had an experience like that.

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