January 08, 2008
Last spring Noah was burned pretty badly on a playground slide. I remember the details exactly -- how fearless he was when he scaled the equipment, how he obediently plopped his bare chunky legs down on the tall spiraling slide while I nagged from below (SIT! SIT! Good baby!), how he slid just far enough to realize that the morning sun had made the slide intensely hot, but too far to stop and climb back up to the top. He froze, his arms and legs went stiff against the sloped sides. He pulled his palms off the slide and wailed in pain, only to inch a little further down the slide, which hiked up his shorts and exposed even more soft white flesh to the heat.
And me? Oh. I just panicked.
I started to scale the slide from the bottom but couldn't get my footing in my flip-flops. (Why it never occurred to me to kick my stupid shoes off, I will never know, I am probably one of those mothers who instead of lifting the car off my trapped toddler in a fit of super-human strength, I'll run around in circles screaming and then inadvertently set off the car alarm.) I shrieked at my friend to come guard the bottom of the slide and catch Noah if he fell while I started up the stairs on the other side of the...the thing, you know, one of those tall maze-like playground structures that requires you to climb three ladders and cross a drawbridge to get to the top of the slide.
I laid on my stomach and pulled Noah off the slide. He was hot to the touch. Everything -- hands, elbows, legs, even his cheeks, which he'd burned while weeping into the hot plastic in despair -- was red and raw. A crowd of mothers and nannies had gathered, and one woman handed me a bottle of water and ordered me in Spanish to get him to drink some and to douse his skin with the rest.
We were both crying, although Noah got over it before I did. Within minutes he was running happily in the direction of the swings while I muttered curse words at the heavens. DAMN YOU NATURE! ACCURSED SUNSHINE! HOW DARE YOU ILLUMINATE THE EARTH AND CREATE MOLTEN LAVA OUT OF PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT!
Since then, Noah has never ever gone down a playground slide of his own free will. We've taken down on our laps, but he's always hating it and always fighting it. Other than the swings (he adores those), he's remained extremely fearful of most of the stuff on most playgrounds. Those wobbly bridges? Forget it. Crawl-through tunnels? Maybe, but very very slowly, and not if there is another child anywhere in the vicinity. Monkey bars? Pfft. I am no monkey, woman. I'm gonna stay over here, on these awesomely solid metal steps. Which I will sit on and not move. Yes, I am having a great time, thanks.
The past two days have been unseasonably warm. Ridiculously warm. Suspicious-glance-to-the-heavens-in-search-of-stray brimstone warm. We've spent most of our time at the playground.
Specifically, on the slide.
Go little man. Go and conquer those fears. And get all grubby and crazy-static-haired while you're doing it..