"Let's go to the park."
What could be more simple, more care free and more relaxing?
"A trip to the park?"
That's how this exchange should proceed, but when the participants in this back and forth are Mrs. Blackwell and myself, all bets are off.
So it was last night that we found ourselves after dinner considering a trip to the park. Normally this means simply plopping the boy in his tricycle and ambling to the park just around the corner from our home.
|The park? Who wouldn't want to go?|
On this night, Mrs. Blackwell had a different idea.
Why not, she said, hop in the car and drive five minutes to another park where the playground is bigger, there's more slides, more equipment to climb on, more kids, more everything?
I'll preface all that follows by admitting that, when it comes to many of the decisions in our life, I don't tend to have much of an opinion.
You wanna go here? Sure. Do you want to eat this? OK. How about we watch this? Sounds great.
But, on those occasions in which I do have an opinion, I'm about as flexible as an arthritic octogenarian. So, for no real reason other than habit, I was set on going to the park close to home. The introduction of another park into the equation was not on my radar and, before I knew it, I was launching an emotional and vehement case in favor of the close park.
"The other one is too far away. What's wrong with the one we always go to?"
Mrs. Blackwell stayed patient and noted that the boy "gets bored going down the same slide all the time."
"He goes down that slide once and then he starts throwing rocks at the trees," she added.
|Pictured: my idea of a playground. If it was good|
enough for me, it's good enough for the boy.
True to form, I barely heard her replies, because my mind was focused on sharpening the next piece of evidence in favor of the close park. This back and forth went on for a few minutes, during which time the boy no doubt sensed some degree of tension. Being that he'd been in a bit of a cranky mood to begin with, this did not help.
By the time I
was thoroughly defeated by Mrs. Blackwell relented and we decided to hop in the car and head to the big park, the boy wanted nothing to do with the trip.
Given the fight he put up, it would have been easier to have buckled a 30-pound catfish into his car seat than the boy. He wormed, he squirmed and screamed and cried. The trip to the big park was off.
It's funny how, in the drive to win an argument one can so easily lose sight of the bigger issue or, in this case, the very factor you were fighting over.
"The boy didn't want to go to the big park either," I smugly thought to myself. Mrs. Blackwell stayed silent. Not being totally oblivious, I saw the situation for what it was and apologized to her for arguing and for, in general, being difficult and not particularly nice.
Hurt feelings and frayed nerves sufficiently smoothed over, we plunked the boy into his tricycle and headed for the usual park.
|So, this is what they're doing with playgrounds these days?|
(All hail yet another victory for the status quo! Yeah!)
As we walked along the tree-lined streets near our home, it was a perfect evening. The sun was setting, birds were chirping — Norman Rockwell would have approved.
As we approached our usual park the boy got off his tricycle and walked the last stretch of the trip to the playground equipment, just like he always does. He was excited, like he always is. He bounded around for a bit on the gravel surrounding the slides and monkey bars, like he always does. His mother and I held his hands as we walked him along a balance beam, like we always do.
And then finally, he climbed up the rubber steps and went down the slide, like he always does.
No sooner did he reach the bottom than did he crouch and sink his hands deep into the pebbles at his feet, before retrieving two big handfuls of gravel. Umm, like he always does?
Then he doddled the ten paces toward the nearest tree and threw his rocky handfuls at the its trunk. Like he always does — apparently.
And then my thoughts immediately shifted toward how wrong I was — as they often do.