The park slut
Susan confesses that being a toddler’s parent is sometimes just a teeny bit boring.
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It was fun the first 12 times. In fact it was a complete party. Finn had just learnt to walk and finally we were able to go on adventures together. Mostly I took him to the park, which was free, outdoors and child friendly. (I tried going bra shopping with him once but it didn’t really work out. I found myself running out of the change rooms, my arm hooked in a Victoria’s Secret bra strap chasing Finn through the lingerie department.) Yip, the park was easy entertainment in those early days. Finn would dash about while I’d proudly watch him master walking the rickety bridge of the jungle gym, or bouncing up and down on the seesaw. Often I’d chat to other moms about how much sleep we were getting or what to else one could feed a small child intent on only ingesting pasta with frozen veg and cheese sauce.

And then one day, about a month ago, I just wasn’t that into it anymore. I arrived home from work at lunchtime and thought, ‘Do we have to go to the park again?’ Sure, we often visited friends at their homes and popped into the odd play centre, but with no set arrangement we always defaulted to the park and frankly, I was getting bored with it. It was time for a change.

 A couple of days later I decided we’d go to the Aquarium where an annual card meant that for a fixed fee, Finn and I could view sealife as often as we liked. ‘Finn, we’re going to see fish!’ I excitedly announced one lunchtime. ‘Feesh!’ he replied excitedly back.

All the way there in the car I chatted to him about fish and seals and big scary sharks although I could tell that by the time we arrived, I was more excited than he was. ‘Out!’  he moaned as we pulled into the underground parking. But once inside, our first visit was a great success. We saw scruffy African penguins being fed fish heads and deep sea divers cautiously cleaning the shark tank, their mouths jammed with metallic breathing apparatus. We saw a fishy puppet show with a felt frog singing opera.

Yip, that first visit was so much fun we went back three times that week, each time bringing a new excited friend along with us. (I discovered that my fellow mommy friends were just as bored with the park as we were, and were only too keen to do something, anything, else.) But by the third visit I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. Yes, the penguins were being fed and that same bloody frog was singing its tunes, but everything had somehow lost its edge.

And so now we’re into park hopping. I’d even go so far as to say I’ve become a bit of a park slut. I just have to hear about a park and I’m all there, with Finn and ball in tow. We’ve recently driven half an hour to go to a park. Surprisingly parks are more different to each other than you’d think. There are parks on hills with pointy protruding rocks, which takes a lot of running around to avoid collisions. There are parks with scraggly grass littered with dog poo, which requires lots of running around for other reasons. There are parks where dogs are not allowed and the lawn is green and flat where I get to sit a bit and watch Finn chase other people’s toys. And there are parks with astro turf under the swings so Finn gets to swing higher than he’s ever swung before.

Recently we’ve discovered a park with a basketball court, which for the time being is our favourite park. Because, while Finn runs around after his and other children’s balls, I get to shoot hoops! You see, being short I never really made it onto the netball team and I had no idea, up until now, how much fun throwing a ball through a hoop could be. Especially given the alternative of doing what sometimes feels like next to nothing.

Do you ever get bored doing the toddler thing? What’s the answer?

Read more by Susan Newham.
 

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