Friday, May 24, 2013

In the Park

I'm the mom who brings a book to the playground.

The other day I brought the kids to the park afterschool. It had been a reeeeealllly long day at work for me, and I needed a break. I brought my book and my phone and a cooler of snacks for the kids and sent them off with the warning not to get too, too wet. (It's water balloon season again.) They played, I read and nursed my aching back and frayed patience.

Every few pages I would look up and scan the park for my children. Daniel is easy, he's bigger and he's more predictable. Water fountain, or ball playing, or at the top of the monkey bars. Lily is more unpredictable and shorter, so harder to find. Her favorite thing is to scam some poor kid off his scooter and then race around on it. Within minutes of entering the park, she's found the best scooter, convinced the owner to let her borrow it, and then taken off.

This day when I looked up, I noticed Lily was following her brother in the art of water balloon games. They'd found some mother with a bag full of water balloons, smiled sweetly for some, and then raced off to the water fountain to fill them up. Lily was walking around holding her treasure-  a small pink water balloon. Occasionally she squirted some water out of it, but mostly she was following some bigger kids around, learning. Her brother was already soaking wet.

So I sat on my bench and relaxed.  Then I noticed a couple of mothers interacting with Lily in what can only be described as the "Where is your mother!?" pose. They kept asking her questions, she kept giving them incoherent 3 year old answers. I saw them look up and scan the park for "mom"... no attractive black woman available. Their eyes glossed right over me.

Now, you're thinking this is the time I put my book down and go investigate the situation, right? Nope. First of all, my feet hurt. Secondly, nobody is fighting, screaming, crying or holding a boo-boo. Finally, I find these "Where is your mother!?" transracial adoptee confusions HILARIOUS.  I know, it's wrong.  But I'm sorry, transracial adoption is hard work a lot of the time, so I try to find the moments of levity. And some poor earnest stay-at-home mom with a big bag of water balloons trying to get my little brown daughter to identify her (surely) beautiful brown mommy is highly amusing to me, and my tired feet. So I watched with a smile on my face as my daughter rambled on to them, and the mothers looked at each other in confusion and gave each other the "do you know her mother?!" looks.  Finally one of them took her water balloon away, which made Lily cry, so I got up.

I hobbled over, causing this (I'm sure, lovely person) even more confusion.

"Is she with you?" she asked.

"Yup. That's my daughter" I replied.

"Oh," she said, relieved (and probably annoyed that I hadn't gotten my lazy self off the bench 5 minutes ago) "It's just that she's playing with this water balloon and she keeps putting it in her mouth."

I surpressed my laughter, thanked her, and led Lily away. (Ha! A little piece of balloon? Dangerous!? You should see what this child had tried to put in her mouth in her short life! Knifes! Rocks! Staples!)

So here's what I discovered, besides the fact that I find other people's confusion about not matching my kids amusing: I aim to be the Most Boring Mom in the park.

I never bring any toys with us. You will never find me with water balloons, bubbles, batteries, balls or bubble gum. I have only boring, healthy snacks. I don't have money for ice cream. You might convince me to give you one of the three bandaids I might have in the bottom of my purse, but only if you're really bleeding. Otherwise, go play and leave me to my book.  Come back when you are thirsty or hungry or ready to go home. Thank you.

And to the other moms in the park: Thank you. Thanks for bringing water balloons, and sharing cookies, and watching out for my kids and their tendencies to try to bite dangerous objects.

 It does take a village, after all. :)

baby Lily, scanning the park floor for something delicious!
(I can't even with how cute those baby fat rolls are)

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