On the weekends I’ve been trying to get out with my boys and do a bit more stuff. With the world somewhat returning to normal (or whatever the hell PASSES for normal) I think it’s important to try and do things that allow my family and I some enjoyment without necessarily crossing boundaries or taking unnecessary risks. For example, I’ll take my family to local things that allow us to get out of the house and interact with the world but I don’t know that we’re quite ready to travel anywhere significant. Given the state of the world, I definitely wouldn’t be FLYING anywhere. But I digress…
I’ve come to realize that something I don’t get to do a lot is spend time with my youngest son, Alexander. Currently two years old, he isn’t quite a COVID baby (born into the pandemic) but he’s pretty close, having been born about six months before the world locked itself down for the first time. As a result, being around scores of people and doing things outside of the home or our property isn’t common place for him. Further, my routine usually sees me get home from work, help with supper/dishes, potentially go to karate if there’s class and come home to shower and occupy the oldest until I put him to bed. If I’m lucky, I’ll have forty minutes to an hour of time with the youngest before he gets tossed into his crib for the night. And that hour usually involves my wife and I binge-watching something, since it’s also the last hour before we submit ourselves to the sandman.
That’s why last Sunday, I decided it was important to spend some actual time with Alexander. Rambunctious and energetic, he has all the telltale signs of an angry redhead, including a mane of bright, red locks. So he doesn’t slow down much nor does he have patience for anything that doesn’t align with his thoughts and opinions. Sounds a bit like someone I know… I brought him to a local kids’ indoor climbing gym, where I thought he could spend some energy and hopefully have a kick-ass nap afterwards. I should honestly know better than to try and predict what one of MY children will do…
The outing started easily enough, with Alex being super excited at getting dressed and leaving the house. He had no idea what we were headed out to do. We filled up the tank (I had to remortgage the house in order to do so) and headed to the indoor park. Even as I paid and got our boots and jackets off, I don’t think he understood where we were. He could hear children screaming and playing, so he knew something fun was around the corner. When he finally came out into the main area, I heard an audible gasp from him as he saw the structure and all the play areas available.
The funny part is, he’s been at that location before. Granted, he was a bit younger and what babies can and can’t remember is a whole different story. Parents are allowed on the structures, which is good. It’s the size of a warehouse and he could easily get lost or hurt within its confines. We’d climb up to the top level together, which would involve me testing the limits of my knees’ cartilage. Then we’d go down a slide that takes us all the way down to the bottom of the structure. Loads of fun, even for a 210-pound kid like me. After a couple of runs, he decided to stop me at the bottom and wanted to do it by himself. Fair enough, I can respect a bit of independence.
I watched as he climbed the structure, carefully choosing his steps and being mindful not to fall. Then, he’d choose from three available slides and come whipping down, totally excited and pleased with himself. He’d get a high five and a hug and climb up again. Wash, rinse and repeat. I suddenly became one of the drone parents who just sat there and waited while the children played. But he was having a blast, which is the important part. It’s amazing how a constant, repetitive action can be so much fun to children. As adults, we call that shit work.
One of the side effects of living a mostly reclusive existence over the past couple of years is Alex’s low tolerance for other people. If someone else has a toy he wants or is using a slide he wants to get on, he’ll be quick to show his displeasure; usually with a show of force. You may be thinking, “Most kids are like that…” And this may be true but he takes it to a whole other level. He’s also not very tolerant of other people’s noise. This is kind of ironic, given how much noise he makes himself. But he was having fun, we were out of the house and we were able to spend some time together. Nathan can get pretty clingy and it’s pretty hard doing anything with Alex without Nathan trying to interject.
As with most things in life, all good things eventually must end and this outing was no exception. Alex soon started to bump into everything and BE bumped into by everyone else. Because there always has to be someone to spoil others’ fun, there were two larger boys who were chasing each other around the play area. Although this is expected and there’s no issue with this, these two boys were bumping into everyone and even shoving other kids out of the way. I was correcting these kids and asking them to be careful of the smaller kids, since I didn’t know who their parents were or where they were.
Inevitably, it finally happened. While Alex was trotting along towards a corner, the two larger boys came around said corner and knocked him clean off his feet. Since the floor is carpeted concrete, it stands to reason that it hurt and Alex started crying like someone stole the last curly fry off his lunch tray. I was understandably pissed and I started berating these two little bastards for inflicting harm upon my second-born. Alex clung to me like his life depended on it and one of the fathers finally showed up and started giving me crap for scolding his kid. MAYBE IF YOU’D BEEN WATCHING YOUR KID… (breathes deeply to calm himself).
We left after that, especially since I noticed that the boys carried on as though nothing had happened. Besides, we had been there for a couple of hours and had loads of fun. He was starting to get tired and was probably headed towards nap time. Time flies by far too fast… I remember doing such things with Nathan when he was a toddler and now he’s a grown kid! Those baby years go by far too fast. It’s important to enjoy them while we can. Food for thought… ☯️