They say that children are just little adults. Well, I don’t think that’s true, but it is both interesting and amusing to watch them in certain social settings.
Yesterday evening for example.
Joseph had been invited to a classmate’s birthday party, so off we traipsed at 5pm to one of the local soft play centre’s which he loves. An hour of running himself into a frenzy, pausing only to swallow down a beaker of orange squash, hair matted onto his forehead, cheeks glowing with rosy circles and eyes slightly manic with eagerness to get back into the action.
These play centres are similar to the adventure playgrounds I played on as a boy, with two main differences. These being;
1. They are now indoors and
2. Everything has either a crash mat in front of it or is covered in thick padding.
I can’t entirely decide which would be the more fun of the two were they sat side by side for comparison? There’s no doubt that in today’s climate of libel and suing, the adventure playground (as they used to be called) had to evolve as it has done. The likelihood of finding a 30 foot rope hanging from a tree branch with a car tyre at the end of it is ever more distant.
Anyway, Joseph wanted to try the “big slide” which he has never been down. After climbing up to show him the way, I climbed back down again and called up the helter skelter type slide for him to come down.
“No”, came the answer.
So, up I climb again, sit him on my lap (hey, at least I had a good excuse) and off we pushed.
Crikey, it was bloody fast, not to mention the 180° left turn at the bottom.
The outcome? He loved it.
He raced to the top but again, paused at the top.
“Come on”, I shouted.
“What’s wrong now?”
“You can do it. Climb in and push – I’m waiting at the bottom”.
With that, I hear him slowly swing his feet into the slide, a pause and then hear the whooshing of him hurtling down towards me.
Out he flies, off the bottom of the slide and into the hundreds of waiting balls to break his fall.
He’s pleased with himself and we both whoop loudly, but there’s something wrong, something he needs to put right. He goes up once more and again a pause at the top.
I say nothing; just wait.
I hear him climb in; here he comes hurtling around the hairpin bend at the bottom.
He is wide eyed as he turns the hairpin corner, he lands but immediately turns to me and announces, “I wasn’t scared that time Dad, I wasn’t scared”.
I have pride seeping out of every pore; silly that something so seemingly small could do that, but it’s true.
Another rung on the growing up ladder of life.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yes, the social interaction between children.
They are summoned into the party room where their food boxes are laid out, along with their balloons, hats and drinks.
One quick aside, it always makes me smile how Joseph is the only child to finish off his vegetables before anything else, while all around are polishing off their pizza or burgers.
As usual, the parents all stand around chatting, watching their offspring mingle. The slightly older children are regarded with slight awe and the younger ones are looked at with mild disdain. The object of this time seems to be eat your food as quickly as possible knowing full well there is dessert (always good at parties) and the even stronger possibility of ice cream in one form or another.
Joseph wasn’t disappointed on this occasion; cake and a Mini-milk ice lolly.
There is always the bit of upset when he realises that there’s no more time to play; it is in fact 7.15pm by which time he is usually bathed and ready for bed by now but the contents of his party bag smoothed this little wrinkle out nicely.
Home, washed and changed, into bed and asleep within approximately 2 minutes of putting his head on the pillow.
Sweet dreams Poops.