A park is a great place to do some prime people watching. It’s also a great place to catch diarrhea. On our last visit, while my husband expertly supervised the kids on the play equipment, I plopped down on a large, undoubtedly germ-encrusted rock nearby and let my eyes wander. The place was packed as it was the first warm weekend in several months. First to catch my eye was the dad in the puffy white North Face vest with the pink sunglasses tucked into his collar chasing his laughing little girl, panting from the exertion. Then there was the pair of enthusiastic new parents toting a camera just slightly larger than their infant who was not going to smile for the camera, no matter how many silly faces they made at him. Finally, my eyes rested upon the impeccably dressed couple sitting side by side at the picnic table, watching their equally well dressed son and daughter on the playground equipment. They held hands and leaned into one another while they chatted, smiles on their faces, the absolute epitome of wedded bliss. The picnic basket that sat next to them on the ground was probably filled with organic whole foods and mineral water. Meanwhile, I fully intended to give my kids the rest of a bag of Cheetos when we got back to the car.
I found myself making further comparisons between this family and my own…Where was the frustration, the whining? How, pray tell, did the little girl’s hair stay so nice while she played? Why-oh-why did neither of those kids have any grass stains on their clothes? The mother’s nails, hair, and make-up were magazine-perfect. She looked well rested and not even a little anxious. Was there a medication that could create this kind of domestic tranquility? A class I could take? WHAT WAS THEIR SECRET?
The children eventually returned to their parents, probably because a strange woman sitting on a rock was staring at them, but whatever. I glanced back at the playground, looking for my kids, hoping they weren’t killing each other yet, at least not while the Perfectingtons were in ear shot.
“DYLAN! NO! STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!”
I turned around just in time to see the brother hit his sister over the head with a large stick. “THUNK!”
The father was now prying the branch out of Dylan’s hand while the mother comforted the girl. She appeared to be okay but both parents were still yelling at the boy. Then Mrs. Perfectington redirected her wrath at her husband, “I thought you were watching them, dammit! DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING AROUND HERE?!” Mr. Perfectington, all spluttery and red faced, announced that they were leaving immediately and they dragged the full picnic basket, Dylan, and Dylan’s little sister to their high-end luxury SUV.
The show over, I wandered toward my family, smiling as I watched my husband break up a fight between the girls. “Who hit who? And why?”
All spluttery and red faced, he grunted, “I. Don’t. Know. But it’s time to go. NOW.”
I laughed. He didn’t.
I guess, at the end of the day, we all lose our proverbial shit when one kid hits the other.