Friday, February 22, 2008

Playing up

After Sapphire finished her tennis lesson on Saturday morning we wandered over to the nearby Adventure Playground. According to my current role in life, I sat down on a nearby park bench like a sensible parent and watched as she scampered from one piece of equipment to the other before making some temporary friends to play with.

Their methods of introducing themselves always make me smile. They will climb together; chase each other and try to swing higher than each other a good half an hour before any formal introductions take place. Even then all they want to know about each other is the name and the age. “Hi my name is Sapphire, I’m eight. How old are you?” Simple and always effective, but for adults asking the age of a potential shag at an over 35s singles night it may not result in anything other than a bacardi breezer being flung in your face.

After these idle musings, an immature yearning swept over me. I used to be able to swing upside down from monkey bars and land deftly on my feet ready for a long session on the whizzy. Why don’t they make playgrounds for adults? Who says that adults can’t play on the playgrounds with their kids? Emboldened, I put down my obligatory morning carton of Farmers Union Feel Good Iced Coffee next to my handbag and ventured into the previously-forbidden zone.

“Hey Mum, what are you doing here? Do you want to push me on the whizzy tyre?”
“No thanks love. You carry on; I’m just going to have a little go on the monkey bars over here.” My big hands gripped the first rung tightly and confidently as my feet lifted from the ground. This was all very well, but how the hell was I going to find the strength to swing my enormous bulk over to the next bar? Somehow I did it and could feel the tendons and muscles twanging off one-by-one down the side of my body like a migrating Mexican wave. My pride made me swing to the third bar, if only to have the same painful muscle pulls occur on the other side of my body.
I thought that perhaps it would be better to try something a bit less grueling, such as the cute little rockin’ rabbits on the coiled springs. Sapphire saw this, and clambered onto the blue bunny next to mine. It was rather satisfying to note that my butt could actually fit into the seat even though my knees were splayed outwards in a peculiar frog pose. We rocked back and forth, back and forth as Sapphire sang “See saw margarine’s jaw, Ronnie will get a new blaster….” Whilst she warbled happily, my mouth was sealed shut in determination, mostly because I was afraid my brains would fall out onto the bark chips. It was a sensation very similar to an enforced bout of head-banging at a Metallica concert with the same result of pounding temples and swollen eyeballs. “You keep going Sapphire, I’m just going to, um, have a quiet sit on the swing over there,” I gestured vaguely towards the trees and staggered off, clutching my head.

Swings surely would be a much nicer and safer activity to try, I thought hopefully. Harumph. Well, first there was the humiliation having to wedge my arse into the seat, which felt like trying to stuff a inflatable dinghy into a Pringles packet as I struggled into a u-shaped strip of rubber that even an anorexic munchkin would consider snug. My left butt cheek quickly grew whilst I started off swinging low and slow. I was actually enjoying the sensation and waved triumphantly to my daughter on the swing ropes. “Woo Hoo! Look at me Sapphire, look at me!” She gave me a terse nod in response, and went back to her climbing.

My arms and sides ached after their monkey bar experiences, but were still doing an expert job of hanging onto the chains of the swing as I went higher and higher. “Woo Hoo Sapphire! Come and have a swing with me! I’m going sooo high!” She didn’t seem to be able to hear me; no doubt it was due to the wind generated by my altitude. These smug thoughts immediately disappeared when a sudden wave of motion sickness swept in.

I skidded my heels into the ground, recognizing the very familiar, sweaty car-sickish feeling from childhood: sitting in the back of the Volvo on a trip to Adelaide with a filled-up ice-cream carton in my hands. The parking bay near the tollgate was always the most convenient place for my mother to stop and do her regular routine of rinsing’n’flinging out the contents. It was no surprise that wildflowers grew so well there amongst the cracks in the bitumen…..

When my gut stopped its queasy flip-flopping, it was obviously time to see what Sapphire was enjoying so much about the ropes. They were bright orange and erected on splayed poles to resemble a huge spider’s web. She had climbed so sure-footedly to the top of the web many times – a bit like her mother at the same age really.

My already-abused arm muscles shook with uncertainty as I grabbed at the web. My massive grown up feet somehow managed to find a grip on the slim rope and I found myself on the lowest row of the web, smiling at my own achievement. The other kids weren’t as happy about it as my bulk had stretched the ropes to the tautness of cable, causing the cone-shaped web to rise alarmingly high on their side and touch the ground on mine. Oh, so that’s why my feet could balance on the rope – it was on the ground. Pretending to be distracted by something else in the distance, I jumped off the rope and made my exit. I'm sure that at least half the kids managed to hang on as the ropes snapped back into formation at least.

The point farthest from the stupid spider web was the pipe tunnels. “Sapphire! Sapphire! Wanna come in here with me?” Never mind, she seemed to be in earnest conversation with another girl on the monkey bars. The pipe was only four feet at its tallest point, so my stroll inside was that of an osteoporosis sufferer determined to find every coin dropped on the ground. You would think that this vantage point would be prevent me from stepping – and slipping – on the slimy, stale black mud, but it didn’t. And trust me to be wearing light fawn shorts that morning too. Maybe the kids’ll would just assume that the two gigantic black shiny circles on my arse were skid marks from the swing seat.

“Oh Mum, you’ve got mud all over your BOTTOM,” Sapphire whispered in 150 decibels. “It looks like you’ve pooed yourself, yuck!”
“OK OK, how about giving me a hand here by the water fountain, and I’ll see if I can wash some of it off.” Thankfully most of it came out even though I now did feel as though I’d truly wet my pants, squelching to the spinning teacups.

“Have a try of these Mum, you’ll love them”, Sapphire urged.
Again, my wet bum wedged itself into the tulip-shaped yellow cup quite effectively. “Now Mum, I’ll give you a push and then you sort of wiggle your legs around and the tea cup will spin. Ready?”
“Oh er, I’m sure not sure spi-------- Aaaaaarh!”

I’m no physicist but I’m sure that the tiny circumference of this individual whizzy would make it, um, more ‘whizzyish’ than the larger one designed for the use of many children at once. It felt clinging on to the end of an over-powered bamix which made it impossible to focus on anything around me as the landscape whirled by in psychedelic whirls and stripes of colour. My iced coffee was threatening to return again, albeit in slightly chunkier form with added peas and carrots. “Stop me Sapphire, PLEASE!”
She did, and I fancy there was a suctioned pop! sound as I extricated myself from the satanic spinner as quickly as I could, only fall face down into the bark chips.

Sapphire laughed, patting my wet bottom, “Oh Mum, you’re so funny.”
“That’s great,” I mumbled, still spitting chips. “Time for us to go home sweetie.”
“Awww Mum!”


“Mum? Muuuuuum, why are we just sitting here? Why aren’t you driving the car yet?”

I took a big, slow gulp of air. “Er, I’m just sitting here for a bit so that I don’t, er, get sick in the car.” Another big gulp. “Why don’t you see how many cockatoos you can count sitting on the lawn over there…….”


dr b said...

Have another next weekend, you are just out of practise!

River said...

Ha ha that was funny. Wouldn't it be great if our bodies could stay as young as our minds?

ashleigh said...

I'm the wrong side of 40 and I still go hell for leather on the swings in the playground.

Mind you, I learned the lesson about the monkey bars a few years ago:

1/ I'm too tall, I put my arms up and just walk along touching... no fun there, leading to:

2/ Hold legs up and try creaking over monkey bars. Hell thats hard work. After feeling like my arms were being pulled out, and then my neck was being wrenched off, I decided that legs down and variation #1 (above) was far preferable.

But you can't beat the swings :)

I reckon I *might* have to give them up when in my 70's, but thats a long way off yet so... plenty more swings to look forward to. And kids to embarrass!