After a bit of consideration (but not much) I have come to the conclusion that going to the park with small children is crap.
The parks I’m referring to can be split into loosely two categories; those with large open spaces and those with swings and slides. Both as crap as each other to visit but for differing reasons.
You get invited for a picnic in a large park. You think to yourself ‘Oh yes, what a lovely idea, we can all sit and have a civilised healthy picnic comprising of neat little sandwiches and vegetable sticks, our children can potter happily around us looking delicately at little bugs and making daisy chains. We can then follow this up with a meander through the grounds and look at the ducks whilst standing a safe distance from the water….’ And so on.
This is NOT the reality.
The minute you arrive you look around at the large open space, you then glance back in the car to your 3 year old, 5 year old and a baby and think ‘This was a shit idea.’
Being completely British about it you are totally determined to enjoy your picnic and soldier on. Before you’ve even left the car park your 3 and 5 year olds have gone on total strike from holding anything and the single buggy housing the baby only has a small basket, so you find yourself grappling with the buggy, two large balls (scented ones no less) a bag, a pair of small sunglasses and a One Direction lunchbox slung casually over one shoulder. But you can do this because it’ll be totally worth it.
You unpack the picnic and blanket (the blanket which isn’t a ‘proper’ picnic one so the wet ground soaks straight through) and offer the food to the children. Food consumed equals a carb fest of sausage rolls and copious amounts of crisps, not a veg in sight. The children stay for approximately 30 seconds before starting to explore.
Events that unfold include beating a tree with a large stick, running as far as possible to go and shut the gate on a road which is frequently used by cars, jumping down into a ha-ha and climbing the wall the other side which is just waiting to crack your head open, beginning to climb a concrete staggered wall which just keeps getting higher and heading hell for leather for a road. A road that has a parked car with windows down and a young couple screaming obscenities at each other. Nice and child friendly then.
Open spaces just invite kids to bolt. They are not lovely, they are knackering. Little park flowers look pretty but you spend your life asking your child not to pick them and could they please step off the flower bed and walk around it like everyone else’s child is managing to do. You point out a little bug that’s tootling across the path and then regret it as your child stands on it to get a better look. You are responsible for an animals death, you are a crap person.
You change tack and show your children a frisky squirrel scampering across the path, they instantly chase it and scare the shit out of it, you’re probably now responsible for the death of a second animal.
Ice lollies are a lovely idea, well, they should be but they’re not. They begin to melt because your child is too busy bug killing and flower picking to remember to lick it. It spreads across their face and dries, leaving their hands and head in a sticky mess, you then realise that you have no wipes. Your child then has a humongous meltdown because they’ve eaten half the lolly but they want a ‘big one’ again.
Ducks. Ducks are good. They are sweet and quacky and kill a bit of time. That is until you reach the pond and it has an open edge, it looks rank and deep and is full of manky fish that are coming to the surface looking hungry. You think you can cope with this until your child gets all excited and starts moving in a rapid and unpredictable manner right by the edge of the water, forget the squirrel, you are now full on shitting your pants that they will fall in and you will have to follow them into the disgusting, rat infested (I imagine) water with those rank fish. Your child is steered away from the pond. Ducks are not good.
These parks have dogs. Dogs that wander around looking menacing and sniffing around your child’s arse while they scream totally petrified that they are about to be eaten. Dogs are not good.
Country parks are not good.
Then you take them to parks with swings and slides.
‘Can we go to the park mum?’
You think ‘Oh yes, that’ll be a nice thing to do, fresh air, lots of fun to be had on those soft and safe slides and swings….’
This is NOT the reality. You reach the park and glance around at the ‘fun things’ to do and think ‘This was a shit idea.’
There is always an assortment of metal death traps on offer. A huge slide with hundreds of steps that just scream out ‘Climb me….then lose your footing and split your chin open.’ They have those things they sit on and rock backwards and forwards, then move their head forwards at the same time as the object and smack their chins on it.
The Firemens pole is great. Your child either attempts to launch themselves straight down it or tries to lower themselves carefully but in the process painfully whacks their balls on the pole whilst clinging on.
You basically spent the whole time down there preserving life and preventing your child from killing itself.
That bin your child licked and got the shits afterwards? That was in a park. That swing that your child walked in front of and it hit them in the chops? That was in a park. The last dog turd you stepped in? Park again. That see saw that your child asked you to read what was written on it and when you looked it said ‘Your mum’s a fat bitch’ and ‘This park is f****** shit’? Park again.
So next time someone asks you to go to a park and you think it would be a lovely thing to do, just remember it’s not. Parks are totally and utterly crap. Worst day ever.
However it can be good to try and guess the function of the odd random park item that appears in the local play area, one of my favourites being this green thing that can only be described as resembling a woman’s contraceptive coil. Such fun.