It’s a rainy weekend in Brisbane. Saturday afternoon we decide to take Jack to Lollipops – what a great idea; get everyone out of the house, ensure Jack has a run-around and tires himself out so he sleeps well in this god awful humidity.
Lollipops is an indoor playland – you know, the sort with tunnels and slides and ball pits and bouncy castles etc.
Somehow I didn’t factor in that every other family with small children in Eastern Brisbane had this idea as well. Mayhem pretty well describes what it was like there. Upon arrival, I witnessed a child just open his mouth and blatantly scream, before proceeding to dash around the place not unlike someone on speed or some other adrenaline-fuelling drug.
I’m not a claustraphobic person, but somehow managed to experience this panicked feeling when trapped in the “under 4’s” play area with a handful of other parents all trying to stay within arm’s reach of their own wobbly toddler, ready and braced to body-check any obstacle who may happen to come between said parent and its child – should that child appear to lose footing.
I wasn’t so much worried about Jack falling (in his case, head-over heels down the slide in his attempt to run down it on two feet), but more about him tossing other children to the side, stealing their dummies, or pulling hair as he seems to enjoy doing these days. I let Nathan do the arm’s length monitoring while I sat back in a miniature chair and tried to take deep breaths. That is, until 2 obnoxious and sugar-hyped 6 year olds bashed their way up the slide, past the toddlers and through the jungle gym that is for BABIES. My heart rate immediately increased. I scrambled into the jungle gym with Jack and started lecturing someone else’s little terror of a child, as he attempted to feed my baby a potato chip. “There’s no food in here. OUT”. He shot me an evil stare and turned to crawl away from me. I tried to grab his chip bag - my justification being he tried to feed one to my child, should his parent be offended – but he was too quick and climbed out of the gym and went to sit in the corner and eat his chips (not before screaming “YOU”RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME” and spitting in my face as he blew his tongue at me in true brat-fashion.
I got the last laugh, though, when I watched him leave his chip bag and crumbs on the floor – which I didn’t hesitate to pick up and bring to his father, sweetly explaining there is no food allowed in the “under 4” areas and that he was trying to feed chips to the babies. I was sure to give that little shit my best “HA-HA” smirk as I walked away. That was the last we saw of him!
Then it was back to watch Jack crawl back and forth through this tunnel, competing with other babies to climb over and through the obstacles, up the stairs, down the slide, again and again and again. I felt a little bit bad letting Nathan do all the monitoring as I just sat on my ass and watched from afar. But I just didn’t have the energy, or the care, to get in there amongst strangers children and try and pretend that I cared about them as much as my own son – cause I really don’t. Jack is an only child and I parent him as such – I just want to watch him explore, discover, do new things and laugh – even if it means he’s spending more than his fair share of time on the steps and not making room for the little girl behind him. I’m thinking “just push him if you want to get past. That’s what he would do to you. Geez.”
Although, I like to think that if my child ever did anything that disrespected another adult like that 6 year old brat did to me, he would be in the car with a smack on the ass faster than you can say “grounded”. I like to compare my own child against others and be delusional about how perfect Jack is going to be as he grows up.
Nathan sometimes says to me, if it’s a rainy day during the week while hes working, “why don’t you take Jack to Lollipops”. I know he has great intentions for Jack and I that we can just go and have a play and get out of the house, but really, if I am going to spend $15 to get into that place for just an hour of play, Im going to do it when we can make it family time – on the weekend – and any less than a 2:1 parent-child ratio just means its going to be exhausting hard work. At least with two parents you can tag eachother out. Which happened when Jack wanted to go to the big kids tunnels and slides. I also made children here be cautious of my wee baby, even though my wee baby wasn’t meant to be in there, and it was true rowdy-kids domain. At any rate, Jack wanted to explore and I never hinder this desire of his if I can help it, so off we went. Nathan was quick to point out I am smaller than him and therefore I had to tail Jack through the maze. Fair enough. So off we went, crawling through the smelly, muggy tunnels – getting whiffs of 13-year old boys who haven’t yet been told to wear deodorant, and tossing aside odd socks here and there that children have carelessly disposed of. I’m trying not to hyperventilate as Jack sets his foot in some unknown puddle of liquid, or puts his hands to his face to rub his eyes. In my head I can hear a slow-motion deep voice saying “NoOoOoOoOoooo… don’t dooooo ittttttttt…..” and I longingly eye the hand sanitizer mounted on the wall at various points around the joint.
Jack feels it necessary to carry a single ball through the maze with him, as if its his newfound treasure, managing to amble through with one hand where possible, and tossing the ball ahead and retrieving it if he needs two hands to climb over something. And every time he picks the ball up, he has to try and shove it in his mouth. I tell myself its all an immunity building exercise. I tell myself this often. But for the love of Pete, Jack, please please do not get sick from this play excursion, cause we have far too much to do in the coming weeks to be sleep deprived from some nasty cootie-related illness.
Anyway, after rubbing his eyes a couple of times and starting to get wobbly on his feet, I jumped on the opportunity to say “ok time to go. Have to get dinner cooked”. Nathan didn’t protest. He already had my purse slung over his shoulder and we were off.
All in all a great day, I mean Jack had a blast and its amazing watching him work out how to get himself up, over, under, around. Just wondering how many trips it will take for me to become numb to the madness of it all. Lets just say I hope this rainy weather doesn’t happen too often.