Thursday, June 30, 2011

Awkward Mom vs. the Castle Park

Before we begin this week's tale of toddler terror, we want to give a shout-out to our super friend, Awesome Toddler. She has defeated her diaper demons and pondered potty problems proudly while partnering with panties! (She's potty trained, for the alliteration haters out there.) Congrats to Awesome Toddler and her aptly named parents! While Awesome Toddler dealt with matters of pee, we here in Awkward Land battled a "P" of a different nature. Castle Park!!

So, yesterday morning, I am drifting in and out of sleep in the cocoon-like confines of my bed; half-dreaming, half-listening to the melodious birds sweetly singing out the window. What is this coming to greet me by the side of the bed? Could it be a friendly spite to wish me good morning? Perhaps a helpful woodland creature to help me make my bed; aka one of Cinderella's buddies on loan to get my day started off right. Alas, no. It is Super Toddler and this is what he screams into my face, as he rips the warm nest of blankets away from me: "Castle Park! Castle Park! I NEED a Castle Park RIGHT NOW!!"

Castle Park. You know; those huge wooden parks that seem to go on for miles that always kinda smell like resin and mystery. Awkward Grandma calls them Penny Parks because (ages ago; seriously, like in the 80s) all the kids in our neighborhood collected pennies to build one. Super Toddler calls them Castle Parks because they have towers and whatnot, plus he is a wee bit castle obsessed. I sometimes call them words that are not polite to print because my children seem to expect me to haul myself around them regardless of the narrowness of the openings and the wideness of my hips. Here, check out Excellent Mom's blog to see what one looks like. (the actual one we went to, to be exact!) She is a much better photographer than me and it will give you a clear picture about what has Super Toddler in a tizzy so early in the morning.

Needless to say, I am not one to fight the lure of Castle Parks, so I get up and prepare for the upcoming Castle Park siege. This requires focus. This requires dedication. This requires reinforcements. And this requires snacks. So, I focus my dedication on texting Excellent Mom and gathering snacks. We are ready to go in the record time of 1 hour and 16 minutes; a record for a new park location! This involves our trusty friends, Google and Map Quest, 4 peanut butter sandwiches (one of which does not make it into the lunch bag), 3 different types of fruit, a container of Pringles (don't judge, I had a coupon), 2 panics about lost keys, about 17 meltdowns (some of them might have been mine), 3 diapers changes, and 7 outfit changes; including the rejection of shorts (from Super Toddler), the refusal of a blue ball gown (from me), the paring down of 11 necklaces to 2 (again me), and the 16 minute cajoling that it took to get Super Baby to wear anything (both me and Super Toddler. Super Baby just thinks we are prudes).

So, we are finally on the way, and 36 minutes later (we hit traffic), we are there! Super Toddler actually gasps when he sees this thing. It is that impressive. Again, see Excellent Mom's excellent pictures of the entire structure for the true scope of the place. My pictures? Well......I have a few. Here they are:

Hmmm...yes. Less than impressive. 3 shots of the Super Boys in a wooden car in a sandbox. Yep, that is all I got. Well, no, that isn't quite true. But that picture it so special that I think I will save it for the end. Anywho, picture-wise, not too much here, but readers, let me tell you, I do not think I could capture how this park delights the Super Boys anyway. It is downright magical. Super Toddler is right; Castle Parks will make you shout and NEED them at 7 in the morning.

Super Toddler takes off and I don't see him for about 28 minutes. On occasion, I spy his red shirt (very glad I nixed the camo-colored t-shirt or the tan polo) bobbing in and out of towers, and sometimes I hear him yelling to imaginary Rapunzels to let down their hair and play with him. Or he might have met some girl there named Rapunzel, I am not quite sure. He doesn't like to check in. The surprise of the outing is Super Baby. We haven't been to any Castle Parks since our move to Michigan (A year ago, readers! Can you believe it?), and Super Baby was hardly mobile then. Now, the child is a crawling machine.

Quick side note: No, Super Baby is not walking. Yes, he is rapidly approaching 18 months. No, I am not worried about it. Yes, I am tired of talking about it. Back to the Castle Park!

So, Super Baby takes off. And I mean vertically. The child may not walk, but he can sure climb. He is up in the upper walkways of this thing before I can turn around. I am alerted to this development by this: "A baby! Someone left a baby up here! Oh my goodness, whose baby are you? Whose child is this? Missing child!!" Uh appears a well-meaning helicopter mom (yes, I said it) has discovered my adventuresome child. I holler up that he is mine, and she hollers down for me to come get him. I holler up that he got up there, he can get down. I catch Excellent Mom's eye and witness her struggle to not laugh, as Well-Meaning Mom harrumphs (seriously, she did) and says this to her children, "Watch out for the Baby, children. We mustn't step on the Baby. Mind the Baby." Sigh.

For the record, I do go get him when he peeks between the slats over my head and loudly demands that I come up there and help him with the slide. We go down together and nearly run into Well-Meaning Mom: it is glorious. What? What's that look for? Sliding down slides is fun. That is all I meant....

The day speeds on at a ridiculous pace of play, snacks, and fabulous gossip with Excellent Mom. Gossip fuels me like the sun fuels Superman; judge if you want to, it's OK. I'll just talk about you later behind your back. Kidding, readers; just kidding! Maybe....Anyway, time seems to stand still on this beautiful summer day and all is right with the world. (Told you that castle parks are mysterious.) My favorite part of the day has to be when I find Super Toddler hanging out by this firetruck. It appears that this nifty structure in the shape of a firetruck is really a mister (how appropriate), and he is making it mist over and over and over and over again. To the complete saturation of everything on him. He pushes the button and dances around the truck, peering through the falling drops of water and laughing. I ask him what he is doing and he smiles up at me. "I am making rainbows, Mommy."

Oh yes, we will be back, Castle Park. This is just the beginning.

Super Toddler has good ideas sometimes. His lollipops for dinner idea was not one of his best, nor was his let's-see-if-Super-Baby-can-fly idea. But his Castle Park idea? Yep, definitely a winner. Oh, and readers, wanna see what it looks like when we try to heed well-meaning mom advice and control Super Baby's wanders? Here ya go:

See you next time; it is sure to be Awkward!


  1. Ha ha! I love your response to helicopter mom! Actually, I think I love her statement that "someone left a baby up here" - hilarious. Castle Parks are the best! I remember Rory & I were so offended that Evanston took out our wooden Pocket Park for the sake of "safety equipment." Getting splinters out of your butt should be a childhood requirement.

  2. Castle Parks are a rite of passage that I fully endorse, as are butt splinters. Evidence of adventure, really.

    Thanks Anna! :)