I remember about 10 years ago I went to the park with an organic farming colleague of mine who had just left the dirty world of growing veggies for the nice paycheck world of organic fruit distribution. She was babysitting her niece, and our catch-up conversation needed to happen at the local park. Now I do have fun childhood memories of going to the park with my grandmother, getting pushed on the swing, picking up maple tree helicopters...but on this particular day I remember feeling a widening gulf between myself and my colleague, who had of course sold out by going into distribution, and on top of that she was wearing platform shoes, not to mention this foreign world of strollers and string cheese she had brought me to. "No, no," I thought, "this isn't right at all...we're two badass farming women, with backs as strong as any guy...we double dig garden beds and push wheelbarrows of compost for fun...we wear double kneed canvas pants with rivets and big black heavy workboots! We do not hang out at the park and we do not wear platform shoes." Well, turns out she had changed.
And now, I hang out at the park too. I do not, however, wear shoes that in any way endanger my balance. How could I, when I am running after my little one all the time?
I have discovered the joys of being a park regular. It's not the organic symmetry of the landscaping or the richness of the soil in the sandbox. It's not shooting the breeze with other moms on the park bench (I never get to sit down at the park...Sam is the child who is always running out of bounds, turning the corner to see something new). No. It is seeing the smile on my little guy's face when he climbs up the playstructure all by himself, all the way up to the top of the slide, the sparkle in his eyes as he looks down, and his burst of glee as he slides with complete trust and freedom, his hair standing on end from the static charge, and the quickness with which he picks himself up at the bottom, and turns back to the steps to do it all over again. He's got some independence and some adventurousness, that little boy...it feels kind of familiar.