This post's genesis is a quiet midweek afternoon before a thunderstorm. I take Herr Meow out to the park for a little playtime before a late lunch and a nap.
We try to see if we know anybody –a somewhat uncommon event as we don't go often enough to the park at any time of day. There are some kids we recognize — there are the twins we have met before, and one or two children who always seem to be over at the park. Pretty much everyone we encounter ranges in age from six months to four years or so.
No one, except for a child who happens to be visiting a grandparent in town, is with a parent or a relative. Nary a one out of nearly thirty children.
The storm comes in, blows the nannies away, and only Herr Meow and the child who's come here with his grandmother are left. Tiny pinprick drops start to fall and the light canopy of trees shields us.
They play and are happy. The park stops being as dirty, dusty, dank and neglected as it was just a few minutes ago when the pressure was dropping and the heat was bearing down fruitlessly.
It's quiet and then it starts to rain a little more heavily and it's clear the tree canopy won't be holding up much longer. After our goodbyes, we start to walk home.
We walk past the lovely and mostly-gentrified houses that line the way home. I think of all the families they house. I think of the dog walkers we pass, their arms crisscrossed by leashes and their hands steady as they handle their charges' droppings. I think of the quiet cleaning women who smell like Pine-Sol and bleach and the mousy way in which they file in and out of a lovely house as they manage cables and buckets and hoses, keeping their eyes downcast but still managing to return a smile when one is offered. I think of the nannies who vanished at the first sign of rain and their cacophony of languages that keeps them to themselves.
I see all these vignettes unfolding in the span of a hour. I think I sometimes see too much.
Finally, less than a block from home, I see a mom I know a little. She smiles in the light rain while she and her son walk their dog. I wave at her and she waves back.
And then we make it home.
I used to take my daughter to the park when she was little. The park was four blocks over and three blocks up. So we would vary our route every day. There weren’t many parents in the park as the majority of kids lived in the houses surrounding it so the mothers and stay-at-home dads could just look out their windows once in a while to check on their kids. Most of the parents that were actually in the park came from the neighbouring blocks like we did.
I’d always take a backpack filled with drinks, a snack, a blanket, and something for me to work on. Usually it was pictures I was colouring but sometimes it was something I was writing. I usually had a few kids around me asking if they could “help” me colour. We’d talk about different art techniques while I kept an eye on my daughter running around with some of the other kids.
There were two other regulars we saw a lot however most of the time she was making friends with kids she hadn’t seen before. Although by summer’s end she knew almost all of the kids in the area. I found the adults didn’t mingle much, which was kind of sad. However we all knew one another by sight.
My favourite part of the trip was watching the neighbourhood as well. Although ours was very quiet. Despite the huge number of apartment buildings, we rarely saw any of the occupants. There were a few houses scattered between the apartment buildings but only the park block itself had a lot of houses and none of them were older than 80 years, more likely no older than 30 years.
The other park I’d take her to once in a while because we had to go by bus or take a very long walk (40 minutes) had all the older houses surrounding it. However there wasn’t much in the park for her to do. So we’d usually go when there was a craft fair there.
We almost always have the park all to ourselves… unless we go to the one the CBS Early Show built for us… The kids that frequent the parks here are all grade school age, and most walk or ride their bikes to the park by themselves. We still live in a place where kids can do that…
…and I’ve never actually seen a nanny, lol… isn’t it interesting how different lives can be?
You certainly have a way with words, my dear. The picture you painted was melancholicly (I know, not really a word) sad and beautiful at the same time. And yes, as women, sometimes we do see too much.