The part I’ll post is the good part. I won’t mention the increasingly annoying way the boy is exercising his ability to disobey. He’s becoming good at not doing what I ask or tell or command, but I won’t write about that. I won’t go into the way he stares at me, turning my words in his mind before deciding to ignore me. That happened on Monday but who wants to hear that song.
I’ll write about something nice. I’ll write about the park. We strolled over there, taking in the neighborhood. He pointed out the woof woofs. He waved to strangers. He sat and said nothing. When we got the park, he walked toward the swings, pointing up. Let’s go, dad, in other words. We swung, me pushing him now and then and him looking at a small person two swings over. The little girl didn’t say anything to Bryce, though her mother acknowledged him. When the swinging was over, he lifted his hands, the signal for me to stop things and pick him up.
He scanned the park and chose the big thing with three slides, a bridge, and a few other parts I have no names for. He climbed up, aided by me. I was excited. We played peek-a-boo through the holes in the big thing. He tapped across the bridge. I ran alongside him. This entertained the boy considerably because he stopped mid-bridge to hold his stomach and laugh.
Then a big kid, who was a few years older than Bryce—maybe he was six—but not much smaller than me, came by. He hardly introduced himself and hugged my kid before starting his play. I was thrown. Uh, dude, introduce yourself to me and to my boy before you take his hand. I didn’t quite know how to respond. I felt that adult voice telling me that this new boy needed some guidance on how to socialize with strangers. But I needed to be careful. People in parks can be protective of their kids. I was readying to be protective of my own at the time.
I added the introductions. I figured I’d model for the young lad. I thought, he needs to know that there’s a way to do things. I instructed him to slow down when he pulled and prodded my little boy. Bryce looked like a doll looks in comparison to an adult standing next to this plump fellow. The boy picked Bryce up, and I had to say “Put him down.” He took Bryce to the slide, and I had to tell the boy, whose name I still didn’t really know, to go easy, that Bryce wasn’t interested, that I already tried to put him on the slide. And so on. Then the boy got a little too aggressive and when I said something, I heard a sister being dispatched by a mother. “Momma said you’re moving too fast for him, Blake.” Good, I thought, I don’t have to wreck this kid in the absence of his parent. I felt better knowing that she’d witness him and me and that childish description of me checking him would be balanced by her saner view of the situation.
He obeyed his mother but only in the way that all boys obey their mothers. He adjusted himself in that moment. And when his sister’s words lost their weight in his ears, he forgot and went back to what and how he had been doing. The big-but-still-small kid eased up a bit, before starting to heave at play. He swung and ran across the bridge. He encouraged Bryce to chase him, saying “I bet you can’t catch me.” I knew that these words, though in my boy’s vocabulary, had no meaning to Bryce. He loves the park, but the kids he usually plays with talk like him. Their words are understood by nobody really. The big little boy was running and jumping, and I asserted my parental rights. I was a bit less patient because the kid was getting excited. Excitement is great when kids are playing, but my boy was not a match for the hulk-in-training. This kid’s excitement could leave my kid squashed.
After a while, his mom called for him. I was relieved. I wouldn’t have to send him to his mother. I wouldn’t have to break my son’s forming circle of friends so soon in his life. I would do that in the future. I would tell him who his friends could be and who they couldn’t be. But I didn’t have to do that on Monday. Thank goodness. Bryce was exhausted. We walked over the the water spray and got water sprayed. We wet our faces and heads and laughed until I forgot about the mini-linebacker. Then we returned the stroller to make our way home.
I hope you’re creating memories as fun as these.