Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sandbox

On Tuesday, I took the Monkey to Turtle Park. It's over in Tenleytown/Friendship Heights, a world away from our neighborhood. It had fantastic equipment, fresh wood chips, and new sand. It's hard to believe we pay the same property tax (rates).

The Monkey and I circled the Park in the car, and then walked around it. I was wary, trying to figure out the new anthropoligical scene. The Monkey was wide-eyed, not wary but trying to figure out something else. Lots of polyglot nannies. Lots of well-heeled moms. Some talking into their cell phone hands-free sets whilst their charges played. It was hard to see how the Monkey and I were going to fit in.

I took him to the swingset first. He'd been on a swing before, but this time, he really opened up. He was laughing like crazy with each pendulum arc. As he got closest to me, his wrinkled-nose smile and jubilant laughter reached a peak. Then he swung back...and closer to me again! Back...and close again! Man, this thing is great! (I was maybe a little more jaded about swingset operation, but I enjoyed the novelty vicariously through him.) Sometimes I would bring my face up close to his on his closest approach (perismile? perimonkey? perimonkeydaddy?). Other times I would tickle his feet. Oh, how he laughed.

Sometimes I had to quiet the swing and mellow him out: it was pretty intense. But he was glad to get going again, so we swung away.

I struck up a conversation with the mother of the 1-year-old in the next swing. She was very friendly -- not stuck up, like I was kind of expecting from the neighborhood. She asked if the Monkey had ever been in the sandbox. I said no. She reassured me that he would be alright, so we went over. (But first I went back to the car to get a sippy cup of water, anticipating the virtual certainty of sand in the Monkey's mouth.)

The sandbox was huge: 40 feet square, and filled with white sand. And there were tons of buckets, shovels, dumptrucks, and the like. So many that sharing should not have been an issue -- although it was (of course). There were permanent toys, and concrete turtles, and other fun stuff.

The sand felt weird beneath the Monkey's feet: I told him it would, and I was right. But he adjusted. He sat right down, made himself at home, and played nicely with the other 1-year-old. I chatted with his mother, and she told me what to expect from the park. We also talked about stay-at-home parenting. At one point she was discussing her son's transition to one nap per day, but broke off and said "I won't bore you with the details." And I said "Not at all! That's my life!"

Eventually the two of them left. And who should take their place, but that rara avis...a stay-at-home dad! I chatted with him for a while, and appreciated the difference in the interaction. Less talkin', more slidin', I guess. (Maybe it was because he was a Texan.) It was reassuring to know there was at least one more stay-at-home dad out there.

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