With the mild weather this winter, we’ve been seeing a lot of the various parks and playgrounds around town. I usually prefer Brookdale Park because we can walk there easily, but my kids have fallen in love with Edgemont Park – or “The Goose Poop Park.” It really is full of goose poop, at least in the grassy areas. Luckily, said poop is filled with hay, and it’s easy to shake or scrape off the bottom of little shoes. Last week, during one of those lovely 50 degree days we had, I had the chance to see a different kind of poop there: less grassy, more entertaining.
My kids were playing around on the spiderweb climber when I saw the look of defeat on her face. She had arrived a few minutes before with a friend, four kids between them. The kids immediately ran for the slides and ladders, and the moms started chatting about photography and portraits and visiting more often. Soon they drifted apart to check on the younger children, and that’s when it happened. Her shoulders slumped; her chin fell to her chest. Then she took a deep get-yourself-together breath, looked up, and said, “Okay, Honey. Come on down. No! Don’t sit down! Just come over here.”
My youngest has recently finished potty training, so I knew exactly what was up. The kid had pooped her pants. I had nothing to offer, no wipes, no tissues, and I knew enough not to make a cute remark. I watched as they exited the playground gate and then stopped. The mom looked around, presumably for a place to clean up. No bathrooms were open, and she had a kid still on the playground. I could practically see the thought bubble above her head: “What do I do? Leave? Pack ’em all up four minutes after we got here?” She decided not to, and headed to a trash can on the side of a bike path.
Kneeling down, she gave her daughter a hug and said something with a nod. Then she took off the kid’s shoes and pulled down the toddler leggings. Oh! Look away! Yep, definitely not as easy to clean as goose poop.
Again, I saw the thought bubble appear as she scanned the playground for her friend. Would her friend have wipes? An extra pair of pants? Where the heck is she? Argh! Off came the underpants, and there stood the three-year-old, mooning the geese who didn’t think twice about leaving their own excrement behind.
And then wow. Wow. The mom took her own shoes off, removed her socks, and used them to clean her kid’s bum. First one black argyle sock, then the other. Poopy underpants, poopy socks, and the lucky napkin she had apparently found in her pocket all went into the trashcan.
Crisis averted, the sockless mother returned her daughter’s pants and shoes to their proper places (the kid’s socks never came off), gave the cherub another hug, and whispered something in her ear. The toddler ran back to the playground with renewed enthusiasm.
The mom never looked back; she walked resolutely into the playground, holding her hands askew. As she passed me, I gave her a thumbs up and she cocked her eyebrow, daring me to challenge her parenting choice. I didn’t. Heck, I was impressed! When she found her friend, she was given squirts of anti-bacterial gel for her hands, and then the chatting resumed with shrugs and laughs and “What are you gonna do?”
I have to ask, What are you gonna do? Is it worth packing everyone up and going home? Or are a couple of socks and a pair of underpants worth a beautiful day in the park?