Playgrounds are something that don’t even enter your consciousness until you are about 9 months into parenting… and once you start going to them, they become a staple part of life.
Most parents start bringing babies to playgrounds as soon as they can sit up any way competently… It sounds kinda crazy to bring a human that small to a playground but let’s face it, we do it for the immensely cute photo ops of them sitting like little drunk people in a swing.
And so begins our relationship with the playground. It starts out super cute. You get your Insta story loaded up, maybe even a highlight collection! The family Whatsapp groups get bombarded with photos and everyone dotes over the cuteness. It’s a welcome change of scene from the four walls of your home, and you get to see some other parents in action.
Then said babies begin to crawl and walk… and the playground becomes less of a photo op for parents, and more of a test of your worst fears. Only at this point in parenthood do you realise what fear feels like.
Like that slow motion, sick to your stomach kind of fear where you see something terrible about to happen & you can’t do anyting about it!
These toddlers can smell the freedom once they get inside that gate. They do not want to hold hands or be carried… they want to go! And trip, and faceplant on the semi-bouncy semi-skinning ground, and get up and keep going!
Their little fat legs carry them dangerously close to swings in full flight.
They crawl up stairs to the top of slides that look to you like those panoramic views of the Great Wall of China.
They stand victorious at the top of the slides & smile at you as they teeter ever so close to the edge without holding on.
There, see? That’s the fear I was talking about! Not their fear though, yours!
They are content with the baby slide for a while, but then they realise that there is a much more attractive mountain to climb at the opposite end… good luck trying to keep them away from that!
When they reach 2 there is rarely time for photo ops. You are too busy keeping them alive! They are well on their way to independence, but still terrifying you on a regular basis.
Walking under the seesaw as it descends.
Attempting to scale climbing walls clearly not designed for people with legs that short.
Stepping off roundabouts while spinning with the G Force of a rollercoaster.
They get braver & you get greyer!
They reach age 3 & the petrifying incidents begin to lessen. Slightly.
They still insist on standing at the top of the big slide without holding on or sitting down.
They love nothing more than standing at the bitter edge of a drop off platform 7 feet in the air.
Each visit you make sees them get more brave and more adventurous. They get a tiny bit less bothered about your existance. They notice other children and start to interact with them.
You still feel that fear as you watch them dive in head first, but you don’t get as crazy over it as you did before. You learn to contain the crazy. You begin to trust them that bit more.
Come to age 4 and you barely need to even look at them anymore. They know the place inside out, they have good balance, the spacial awareness is kicking in, they have full run of all the equipment & you can get back to the cute photo ops without having 999 on speed dial!
I look forward to when my youngest reaches that stage… when he does, I will be so over the photo ops… you will find me on a bench sipping a coffee, watching other mothers try to hide their crazy as they chase after their toddlers, getting greyer by the second!