I've taken my kids to the park a lot recently. Well, relatively recently. It’s gotten very cold here. The newest 4 year old would be fine going to the park despite the potential for snow. She’d also be fine doing it in sandals and a poofy pink skirt. She goes her own way. I’m just happy to get her to compromise and wear socks and a coat.
My favorite thing about the park is that it’s not my house. We get out. We see something other than our own four walls. And our house isn’t trashed when we’re done. These are very attractive qualities.
My least favorite thing about the park is that I’m required to monitor two kids at all times. Not that I don’t monitor at home. Because I do. Most of the time. It’s just a lower level of monitoring. Because the house is child proofed. And anything they might destroy I own. On top of that, I have the ability to lock doors and keep everyone contained to a defined area. Our security system even chimes if the newest 4 year old gets any bright ideas about exiting the house alone. My husband hates the chimes. I take great comfort in the chimes.
There are no chimes at the park. That means I feel obligated to see or hear my kids at all times. Because it’s 2007 and I’m super paranoid girl. I remember the safety expert with the giant mustache on Oprah years ago leading kids away from the playground with stories of lost puppies. But with two kids, it’s tough to keep up. And giant wooden fort structures don’t help. Would it kill the playground designers to slap a fence up or something? If there was a fence they could design it with only one exit. Then if I sat next to the exit you couldn’t take my kid without walking past me. And the jig would be up. Because my kid’s crazy. She’ll totally wave and ask me if I want to go see the puppy, too.
McDonald’s appears to have mastered the one exit strategy. Is there no detail they haven’t thought of? And why do they not explain these things to the people that design parks? Before I had kids, I don’t think I really respected McDonald’s. I didn’t grasp why they were so big and successful. Now that I’m their target audience I totally get it. They understand what I want. They deliver it before I even realize I wanted it. One of my personal favorite is the design of their milk jugs. They’re made bottom heavy so a kid can drink out of it without tumping it over on the table. Don’t even try to tell me that wasn’t planned. Has to be. Genius. Are you taking notes Wendy’s? Because you should. You could learn a thing or two. Although your nuggets are way better. So good job. But get on the milk jugs. And the playgrounds.
I’d probably stay at the park for hours on end if I could just sit and read a book without stressing out. I have no problem not getting anything done all day. I have no problem with the kids getting dirty and scraped up either. It’s just the down time I could do without. I’m almost glad it’s winter. Except that means we’ll be hitting mall play areas now. Malls with two small kids suck. Although at least the malls cushion the play area benches. And they sell cookies. Everyday that ends with a cookie is a good day.