Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Bittersweet Playground

On Sunday, at his request, Paisley and I took Conor to the playground. He had the biggest zit on the side of his nose, by the way. I couldn't stop staring at it. 

I think when you're old enough to have a zit on your nose that draws stares, you're probably too old to be hanging out at the playground.

It'll be time, soon, to explain to Conor that he's too old to be going to the playground. He's been the oldest kid there for awhile now. 

He loves to swing, though, and asks you to push him higher and higher. (I've tried to teach him to swing himself, and he can do it. He's just obstinate about it. It's maddening.) 

He'll ask you to bounce him up and down on the seesaw, giggling madly or bobbing his head back and forth in rhythm. He'll climb the miniature rock wall and whisk down the green plastic slide, his feet thumping on the bed of wood chips.

Caillou struggles with the monkey bars in Stronger Every Day, and Conor does too.  So he asks you to help him, just like Caillou's dad does.

I try not to let it get to me.  The fact that my teenager likes to watch a show about a sickeningly sweet, inexplicably bald, 4 year-old Canadian boy.  Or the fact that he still likes to go to the kiddie playground.  I, myself, still like to sit on a swing for a few minutes on a sunny day in my mom's backyard.

It's not the physical activities that make the kiddie park bittersweet.  It is, as it always is, the interaction with the other kids.  The much littler kids, after all.

He towers over the little boys and girls.  As short as he is for his age, he is still a 13 1/2 year old.  He outweighs them by multiples. He points at them and squeals, "That's Miss Canty over there!"  "That boy over there has a grandfather who died!"  

I don't know why he says these things.  I think he thinks he's being funny. I'm not amused. Neither are the kids.  They're confused.  Wary. They don't have the words for it, but they know he's different. They give him a wide berth.

That Sunday,  a young, reed-thin boy with a mop of brown hair was sitting quietly on a swing, completing an Extreme Dot-to-Dot page. He looked to be 11 years old. Conor loves Extreme Dot-to-Dots and Paisley helped facilitate an introduction. Steve, the boy said his name was.  And sure, Conor could watch him do one of the puzzles.  

No, Paisley told Conor, you can't pick out the one the boy will do. And you can't do one for him. But you can watch Steve do the puzzle.

It didn't bother Steve, though.  He did the dot-to-dot puzzle Conor had picked out. Conor watched, engrossed in telling the boy how to count and connect.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5...

Conor, said Paisely, laughing.  I think Steve knows how to count.  

After Steve finished his page, he packed up his pencil and his book and ran off with his younger brother. He and Conor re-connected a few minutes later to throw a Frisbee together.  Then it was time to go.

On August 4th, Two Thousand Twelve, Conor made a friend named Freddy, he told me.  On October 14th, Two Thousand Twelve, he then said, Conor made a friend named Steve.  Good job, Conor said, holding his hand up for a high-five.  Good job making friends, he crowed.

Indeed, Conor, a good job indeed.  But now it's time to go.

1 comment:

Lindsey said...

Your never too old to go to the playground!!!