So, I’m a single mum again.
this happens each Christmas because of Krys’ job. for the two weeks leading up to the year end, he is required to work ten hour days (eight to eight) and it doesn’t help that he works an hour and a half bus ride away, so that officially he’s gone for twelve hours each working week…unless he cycles, which 18 Kilometres to Sandyford, takes him 45 minutes at maximum speed (yeah, I know. you wish you could see him only in his underwear too! wink) and doesn’t shave much time off the overall total. And good as he is on the bike, cold dark rainy mornings and evenings are not the best to cycle in so he’s been taking the bus.
This means I do everything. like a single mum actually and I have a new found respect for all of them. it’s bloody hard work.
but, this isn’t waht I wanted to write about.
Last weekend, Krys had to work a Saturday so it was Roz and I all on our lonesome for the first half of the day. When Krys is home, he usually takes her for a walk to the playground and they leave me in peace for three hours while they swing and slide the morning away. What do I do when they are away? I catch up on my sleep, that’s what I do. So last Saturday, I had to drag my sorry butt out of bed and do everything, including the walk to the playground. Roz was very excited. She walked the whole way, which is unusual for her.
Not the walking. The walking the whole way.
And didn’t stop chatting all the way there. “Look a doggie. I feed the ducks tomorrow. look mama, kamien (stone in polish) for frow (sic) them in the water;?” …Boy can she talk. It’s nearly as much as my sister Bibi used to at the same age. heeheehee.
I, meanwhile, could have been used as an extra in The walking dead.
Anyhoo, we got to the playground and everyone was leaving. I mean everyone. I tried not to take it personal. had my darling child done something to piss them off the previous week? Impossible! Had they been barred and Krys neglected to tell me about it? were we not wearing appropriate playground clothing…is it because I is black?
But, my therapist has been telling me to calm the f*** down when it comes to imagining the worst, so I looked at my watch and her presto! it was one O’clock. lunch time. that made sense. Now I was wondering if they were wondering why I wasn’t at home feeding the child instead of traipsing around like a loon…or, maybe they were actually marveling at my genius for coming at a time when we would have the swings and slides all to ourselves! (see, dear therapist. It’s working already)
So yes, we had the swings all to ourselves. Roz was nearly peeing herself with excitement at the prospect of not having to wait her turn, and I was glad I didn’t have to keep an eye out to make sure she didn’t miss her turn. Believe me, it’s a toddler eat toddler world in that playground.
She got on the swing and I pushed her, listening to her squeals of delight and before the swing had slowed down again, the reason for the playground emptying became all too apparent grey clouds had turned even greyer and the first fat raindrops began to fall. Roz was all for continuing, but what kind of crazy person doesn’t carry and raingear or umbrella in Ireland I ask you?
Me, that’s who!
I mean seriously! Krys usually takes a backpack of food, wellies, raincoats, those weird waterproof overalls for kids, a rain hat, umbrellas, water, and I came with…the sling and Roz.
We had to hide out under the jungle gym, in the little cover made by the top of the slide. We barely made it too, because by the time I had picked Roz out of the swing, it was absolutely pelting down. there was no way we could have walked home in that rain.
There we sat for the next half hour, singing eensey weensey spider, it’s raining its poring…and other rainy nursey rhyme classics interspersed by a,
“Mummy, I want to go home,” from Roz.
Thank goodness she didn’t decide to do a poo. That would have just been way too much in such a small space and with no escape from THE SMELL.
The rain eventually stopped began to ease off and Roz decided she wanted to go back on the swing and I was hunting for tissues or something to wipe the water of the swings when I saw a group of teenaged boys outside the playground. They weren’t close or anything, and it would be hard to explain if you haven’t seen where the playground is, but I’ll give it a try.
The playground is enclosed in a little park along the canal. the park has a metal fence running around it so that to get to the playground, you have to walk to the middle, enter the park, then walk all the way to the end to get to the playground. When I saw the boys, they were only at the start of the park so they would have had to walk all the way past us and to the middle then enter the park.
Now, call it paranoia or mama instinct or plain old prey instinct but the second I looked at them, I had a bad feeling, and we had to get out of the playground. I buckled the sling around my waist and calmly started to tell Roz that no, we couldn’t swing anymore. we had to go home straight away and she had to get into the sling. well, she went ape on me. she ran away, I chased after, she thought it was a game. I asked, I tried to make it a game, I finally begged, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the group of boys had now swelled in number and had gone from five to about ten and yup! they were turning into the park and the first of them was headed towards the playground. If you turn left at the entrance, there’s nowhere else you’re going.
Well, when I saw that, I just grabbed Roz and started to get her into the sling. She fought me tooth and nail. There was crying and screaming and throwing the head back and I had to be very forceful and was near tears myself saying. I told her I was sorry, that we had to go, I explained the whole situation. yes, to a two year old, because it’s important she knows I wasn’t just deciding to end the play.This was for me, not for her…mostly.
But eventually, I got her in with barely minutes to spare. I walked confidently out of the playground, and past the group, maintaining eye contact with at least one, while I talked continuously to Roz to calm her down. And the whole time all I wanted to do was run as fast as my legs could carry me and not look at any one of them.
I don’t know if they meant us any hard. I don’t know that they would have said or done anything other than…god knows what older teenagers want to do in a playground overlooked by so many apartments. but I didn’t want to stay and find out. When every single alarm bell is going off in your head, I say heed your gut and leg it.
It’s strange though because a few years ago, I wouldn’t have run away…not that a few years ago I would have been caught dead in a playground, but.. Yes, a few years ago, I would have refused to be intimidated. I would have felt I had as much right to sit in the playground as they did and I’d be damned if they made me feel like I had to do anything.
But oh, how times have changed. how age and having a child changes you. The only thoughts running through my head were: a mum with a child not old enough to run, what better prey than that? I have to leave before they come in because there is only one exit and if they block off that exit I will be royally f***ed! And it will be my fault, and I’ll have a small child already crying because he can’t have what she wants and they will smell desperation and come in for the kill.
So I did what every primate mother in a potentially vulnerable position has done for thousands of years before me. I put my baby on my back and ran for safely.
That goodness for my sling!