Daily Archives: July 13, 2012
Going to the playground is one of the leading causes of stress for me. It’s not because my daughter runs around like she’s been hooked up to a Red Bull I.V. drip, although that certainly doesn’t help. More than anything physical, it’s a mental fatigue. When it comes to the playground I abide by what I consider to be the parental equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath. The version that I created and repeat to myself whenever I step foot on a playground is:
I swear to fulfill to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will monitor, engage and interact with my child at all times
I will protect my child from herself
I will, so long as it does not conflict with the first two, protect someone else’s child
I will consider all children more than two inches taller or two years older than my child to be a threat to her well being
I will treat all other adults as potential abductors, registered sex offenders and harbingers of the Outbreak virus
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter.
It sounds simple, but living up to this is incredibly tiring. I’m always conscious of the fact that the door swings both ways when it comes to this oath. On the one hand, I want to shotput the bigger kids who nearly trample my daughter, but before I can do that I have to run and grab her before she blitzes the line of one year olds sitting near the sandbox. My daughter is simultaneously predator and prey in the jungle gym.
Then there’s the whole issue of, well, me. To my daughter I’m Daddy, King of the World. I’m a doctor, chef, teacher, potty training coach, recreation coordinator, etc. To every other adult, I’m a potential child molester. (Rule #5 of the oath) It helps that we’re usually the only two Black people on the playground. That way they can easily answer the question every single parent has when they see a man on the playground, “Is he here with a child?” A quick scan of the playground, match the two dark pairs and bam…questioned answered.
I don’t take offense, because every time I see a man go near his lower body, whether it’s to scratch his knee cap or get keys out of his pockets, I’m counting in my head how long it takes him to return his hands to an acceptable place (by his sides), before I run him off the playground. Still, when it comes to Rule #3 (protect another kid), it gets tricky.
Someone left the gate unlatched at the playground and I saw this 2-3 year old girl pull it open and start to walk out. I looked around and couldn’t figure out who she was with. My natural instinct was to run and get her, but immediately I thought about how it would look if the parent happened to look up and see me with their child outside the gate. If it were the other way around, the man wouldn’t have time to explain. If he ever regained the ability to talk, walk, feel and breathe unassisted, then he could explain that it was a misunderstanding.
I yelled at one of the nannies, “Is she yours?” She wasn’t but the lady ran and grabbed the little girl. If it had come down to it, I would’ve gotten the little girl, but I would’ve taken my daughter out of the swing first and carried her with me as sort of a shield. Luckily it didn’t come down to that and if I can stick to rule #1 then I won’t have any misunderstandings of my own.