We were happy to buy a house that, even though it has a small yard, it has a deck overlooking a park that sits in the center of the development.
And in the middle of the park, a little playground.
I thought, with the amount of small children there must be in the community, how many car seats, bikes ridden, and other signed that there would be many playmates for Wonder Boy to make.
Boy was I wrong. We’ve lived here 2 months and have yet to make a connection.
I’ve even talked to a mom who has many children including a toddler, and given her my information.
Still no call.
So occasionally, sometime around lunch, we run (well, he runs) down the to the playground to get his slide on.
Problem is, that’s all he can do at this playground. Two slides, a tic-tac-toe game on plastic rollers and monkey bars. Not even a set of stair, just two ladders.
The neighborhood kids have tagged it multiple times, melted holes in the plastic with lighters and usually leave trash somewhere.
And there’s never anyone there during the day.
I moved into a much quieter neighborhood than I thought it was.
I spent the first couple months lifting him up to the slide and cheering him on at the end. He would try to climb the ladder, one foot in front of the other, getting stuck after the second foot or forgetting how to do it next.
Then one day it clicked, and my worries began.
And the part that always has my heart beat a little faster- climbing onto the top.
Of course, I never remember to check the slides before he makes his first descent- there’s usually bark or water on the bottom.
At least it’s just that.
He usually runs up and down the hill nearby- there is a large grass area, usually squishy in the center from too much water and not enough drainage, and gravity down the other side of the hill will take him in the direction of the grandparents, if I let him follow his feet and Newton’s claim to fame.
For Wonder Boy, a slide is a slide and he loves climbing up and sliding down over and over.
But eventually, he gets bored. The sliding goes slower. The scent up the ladder takes longer.
Then I get a little sad.
I wish I could find a little friend around here for him to play with. He has many good toddler friends, but none in our town, let alone walking distance.
He sees them often, and for that I’m grateful, but some days playing with a chihuahua and Momma just isn’t enough.
Trick or treating on Halloween really brought home how many kids are in our neighborhood.
So many little ones.
Where are they?
The ones I’ve seen aren’t from theis neighborhood, usually. There is no local park in this town that is not involved with a community, so people use the ones paid for with association fees they don’t write checks for.
Including me, before we bought this house.
I am blessed he has such a great group of friends already.
I make play dates them and their awesome mommies and we visit other parks.
Ones with toddler-friendly equipment and other children and mommies and daddies willing to have conversations with strangers and let their children be great friends with ours for the time they share the space.
Sometimes they come to our house, and we share what we have with them.
A blur of action in the quiet lonely park.
I drive home through the development and try to watch for people walking little ones, listen for laughter from the playground, keep an eye our for car seats in back seats.
So until I can find little friends for him that are home during the day, that actually want to play with us, that actually speak English and don’t try to avoid us we will play alone on our own on the playground.