The play park used to be a special place. A place to have wild, abandoned fun, to slide, to jump, to be young. And then when you were 13 it was the place where you could chug Asda own brand cider and smoke and snog (not that i did any of these things - I was at home on full thermonuclear alert after reading the back of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood Two Tribes 12 inch).
Now I'm a mother it feels like the closest thing to being dead that I can imagine. Standing about while your child goes on the slide 154 times, hauling them on and off climbing frames and ladders, interminably pushing the swing, drizzle gently soaking your anorak. What a pain in the arse. What's worse is that you're meant to look like you're enjoying yourself, which is impossible when you're there every SINGLE DAY and you haven't even got any vodka or chocolate buttons to cheer yourself up. (Of course, there's always the joyful laughter of your child, but you know...whatever.) When there's nobody there, the play park cruelly echoes your loneliness, with its empty swings and unloved see-saw. And when it's full, it's like a crap party with no music, filled with people you don't like. Here are just a few of them...
1. The 'fun' parents
These crazy parents are getting stuck in and they don't care who knows it. These are parents who probably only see their children twice a week - either that or they're on brilliant meds. Whoo! Watch out Ollie! Mummy's coming down the slide! Oh no! Mummy's being cut out of the slide by paramedics! Silly Mummy! Ow! Fuck!
2. Clueless Dad
Clueless Dad would rather be on his laptop playing Fifa 2011 but his annoying life partner has turfed him out because she wants some Me Time (having bubble baths and wanking, no doubt). CD thinks nothing of putting a 3 month old baby who can't support her own neck on the death slide or walking off to write a text while his toddler toddles off the roundabout and into the jaws of a passing Rottweiler. Because he's a man though, all the ladies in the playground love him, despite the fact that he's failed to spot that his kid has just been run over by an ice cream van.
3. The Paranoid Safety Officer
Calm down, dear. Your child is on a small bouncy rocking horse 2cm off the ground, not roaring around Silverstone with The Stig.
4. The possible paedo
There are only two types of men who sit alone in playgrounds. 1. Male characters in dramas who have lost their wives and children in a car crash and are sitting on a bench looking tragic and windswept. 2. Big massive kiddie fiddlers.
5. Mums Who Know Each Other
If you're on your own with your child, Mums Who Know Each Other are like the cool girls in school who smoked and shoplifted from Chelsea Girl and were allowed to wear electric blue mascara (I am old, OK?). Oh, you think, how I wish I could be like them. So self assured. So cool. Then you realise that they're a bunch of slightly overweight women on maternity leave who are wearing big milk stained sack tunic tops from Primark and are having the most boring conversation in the world about nappy rash. But you still want to be their friend. Maybe if you ask nicely they'll give you a rice cake? Will they fuck.
WATCHING TV WITH MY PARENTS
I'm at my parent's house at the moment doing a passable imitation of a sneering 14 year old goth. As well as eating too much, I am watching loads of telly, which is great, as I'm married to someone who works for a well known British broadcasting corporation and has to watch 75 episodes of the Weakest Link all day. This means that the last thing he wants to do is watch Masterchef with me and listen to my Gregg Wallace impression: 'If I 'ad that puddin' in a restaurant I'd FINISH THAT OFF' (usually works best with a jam doughnut wedged in your mouth).
Anyway, we were watching Whitechapel, an improbable crime drama based on the Krays. The tension was mounting. The gritty gangster subplot was being unveiled. Someone went for a slash and ended up getting slashed, blood splattering all over the grimy urinal floor.
Then my Mum piped up: 'Oh, I don't like it when you see men going to the toilet on the telly.'
10 months ago