Dinnertime sometimes evokes screaming and hollering and even gnashing of teeth around our house. A seemingly harmless chicken tender and pile of steamed cauliflower can send a child into a deep spiral of pain, which then creates anguish for the entire family. Since the weather has turned glorious, team parents hastily rushes through the dinner process and then suggests as if it is a new idea, “Hey! Do you guys want to go to the PARK? How about the motorcycle park?” More screaming and hollering but of the gleeful variety this time, and we carelessly squirt some soap on our dinner dishes, sweep up food thrown by the little guy, and scramble to the double stroller.
Generally Miles is still clad in dinner with something like ketchup on his face, and we are looking rag tag in who knows what attire. (About once a week Jay pulls out a pair of white sweatpants he’s had since college, and Eden is usually wearing a princess nightgown or some “comfy clothes” ensemble.) The fortunate thing is that in order to go to the motorcycle park we have to book it through Utica Square which isn’t fancy at all. We blend right in with the wine-drinking patio dwellers, especially when we stop for long periods of time to examine the flowers and determine which are suitable for taking with us: “Nope. This tulip is still planted in the ground. Do you see any others with broken stems? We can’t take the flower unless it is no longer rooted in the ground. Look closely.”) Surprisingly we usually find five or six flowers that have been liberated—or cast out—from their brethren. We take these guys with us and stuff them in our pockets or pull apart their bodies mercilessly to create a pile of petals.
Once we arrive at the park, children descend from the double stroller and run to the slides both twisty and straight, the bouncy see-saw, and, of course, the motorcycle (which actually isn’t a motorcycle at all we discovered a few visits ago but rather a four-wheeler. Who wants to go to a four-wheeler park?). I become “the big scary monster” while Eden turns into princess Belle. She isn’t allowed in my castle, the giant play contraption, although somehow she always outsmarts me and my made-up man voice. Her cries of bliss get me every time. They are such a precious part of my day. Jay generally plays referee to the Bobo and supervises him on his slide endeavors and motorcycle/four-wheeler expeditions. We carry on this way for a good thirty minutes, yelping and hollering and running about, until the five minute countdown comes.
A month or so ago, I missed the best park night ever. I never miss. Of all nights, I was getting my annual haircut (who has time for haircuts?), and three of the Stevensons were playing merrily. Eden had torn off and tossed her princess slippers in the play yard, and she happened to notice a squirrel checking out her abandoned shoes. She laughed and pointed at them to show her daddy, and Jay chuckled saying, “Don’t worry about that guy. He’s just sniffing your shoes for some reason.” More playing ensued, and then the squirrel stuffed his mouth full of slipper. “What’s he doing with my shoe, Daddy?” Eden asked, and then they watched as the squirrel made a move. He scurried up a nearby tree with slipper bulging from his mouth, carrying it all of the way up to his nest. The little rascal! They were stunned. “NOT NICE, squirrel!” Eden yelled over and over mightily but to no avail.
A few nights later after her new Frozen slippers arrived in the mail, we humbly placed her solitary slipper by the foot of the tree just in case the squirrel needed that for his plush bedding. Park nights are wild. If you’d told me pre-kids the great joy I would find in park nights, I probably would have laughed and gone back to biking, reading, or doing who knows what. (Do you ever wonder what in the world you used to do before you had kids? I think I slept a lot.) Anyway. . . the weather is looking like it will bring a beautiful park night tonight, and I am ready!