Earlier this week, Thomas looked out the window and said despondently, “Deddy, turn rain off.”
Ah, my sentiments exactly, son. If only I could control the rain, I might have made a few dollars farming, but unfortunately I don’t control the rain; God does–or possibly the Illuminati–but either way I have little control over what falls from the sky over my farm.
For Thomas, rain was the major impediment upon our progress to the park. Parks are wonderful places, places where toddlers can discharge energy without risk of your couch collapsing. Sure, there’s a slight risk you might pull your left deltoid muscle while showing your toddler how to climb the miniature rock wall, but thankfully your toddler shouldn’t know the four-letter words associated with a muscle pull yet.
Anyway, I’ve learned that what makes a good park isn’t so much sliding boards, rock walls, or an impact-friendly synthetic rubber surface, but the playground’s greater containment system. When you do pull a muscle, you will be considerably less mobile while your arm is hanging limply, so a good fence that at least impedes a toddler’s escape from custody is a nice feature. I’ve dealt with many types of livestock over the years, and I’ve always thought pigs were the most adept at probing fences for weaknesses, even more so than goats. Toddlers exceed even pigs and goats at escaping containment. Apparently, toddlers live to defy authority, whereas goats and pigs just take pleasure in it.
Another important attribute of a park is its proximity to your domicile. It needs to be close enough to your house that your offspring doesn’t have time to fall asleep between departure from the park and your return home. Indeed, the whole point of taking your child to a park in the morning is to earn the 2 ½ hours of free time in the afternoon–and nothing sabotages all that carefully laid groundwork and sacrificial muscle sprain more than a toddler’s twenty-minute power nap on the way home. I’ve heard rumor that some superior specimens of human parents are capable of transferring a sleeping toddler from a car into their home without waking the sleeping ball of energy in their arms, but mostly I believe that’s a myth, given that modern-day car seats are about as user friendly as a twisted ratchet strap. Extricating sleeping toddlers from a car now requires a modern miracle, and good luck getting a toddler back to sleep who has awakened refreshed from a twenty minute power nap.
That said, you can, eventually, sleep soundly at night knowing you took your child to the park. Indeed, if there is one thing I’ve learned from fatherhood, it’s that happiness is a toddler on a sliding board.