It only takes a park…

June 4, 2011

…to get an Alice glowing.

This past Memorial Day, Alice and I spent some quality daddy daughter time at a local park.  Now, I knew the park could be fun.  Especially when your kid begins nearly every trip down the slide with “Weeeee!”  However, I didn’t realize all the other interesting nuances contained in this recreational wonderland.

For one thing, the park seems to be a great place to glean insights about your child’s behavior.  Here are a few observations:

  • Alice is in a rather demanding stage in her life.  Not as in difficult for her, but as in bossy towards me.  Now that she can verbalize her desires, she has turned into a dictoddler.  This became quite evident as I was given directives to provide vocal accompaniment to her hare riding, ride along with her on the tortoise, push her on the swing, and help her up the slide.  I guess there is a little Muammar in all of us.
  • Did we observe Memorial Day? Not really.  There is a nearby cemetery that I almost took her to, but thought that the sight of Alice smiling next to a tombstone might be a bit strange.  Was I observant on Memorial Day?  Definitely not.  Look at her shoes carefully and you’ll see what I mean.  So apparently, fashion comfort isn’t a big deal to the daughter.
  • A few years ago, I heard about a study that showed how shyness isn’t an innate quality.  The study concluded that environmental factors, such as labeling your child shy, are what account for introversion. Being unabashedly bashful myself, I found the results intriguing.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind if Alice was more of a social creature than me, just as long as she didn’t approach Richard Simmons territory or force me to make friends with other kids’ parents.  However, from what I’ve observed at Sabbath school, she appears to be more cautious than other toddlers.  Her interactions at the park were consistent with previous behavior.  One girl approached her in the sand pit and she just kind of stared at her for a solid minute.  It was like an awkward showdown at high noon except with diapers.  While other kids dug around in a hole and played with trucks, she stood off and made random scratches with her trowel.  When a friendly girl tried to help her get rocking on her hare, Alice avoided eye contact.  Of course, she could have just been embarrassed by the fact that her dad had put her shoes on the wrong way.
  • It should be noted that all the above episodes involved girls.  When Alice encountered a boy on the play structure she became quite a bit more animated and put on a Cheshire Cat grin.  This isn’t the first time I’ve observed this phenomenon.  Needless to say, I’m very concerned.
  • I never thought about it before, but after observing Alice navigate the play structure in search of a familiar slide, I realized that the park provides a great intro to spatial learning and navigation.  I was pleased to see that Allie seemed to do okay considering her genetic predisposition to become lost in mall parking lots.
  • The park is a great place to get an idea of what might be developmentally appropriate for one’s child.  I think that Sara and I tend to be more on the protective side, as I suspect most first-time parents are.  Now Alice has never shied away from sliding.  She started out on my lap, and graduated to guided sliding with me holding onto her waist as I stood adjacently.  I thought she was doing quite well, until I saw kids of a similar age sliding down independently.  Judging their parents to be sober and reasonably sane, I decided to let the daughter go it alone.  Of course, I stood close by ready to pounce like a ballboy at the All England Club.  To my amazement, Alice skimmed effortlessly across metal, sticking the landing and immediately attempting to crawl back up.  As the slides got bigger, she would spread her legs out and put a hand to the side to stabilize herself.  Only once did the gravitational activity prove problematic.  She came down the slide just a little too quickly, planted her feet just a little too firmly, and did a face plant into the bark below.  There were a few tears shed, but it seemed she was more distressed about getting bark on her hands than anything else.  If we hadn’t gone that day, Alice might have been stuck with a sliding sidecar for awhile.  Instead, we’re now on the waiting list for the nation’s premier baby street luge institute.  Check it out at  Now if I ever tried that, there would be new meaning to Memorial Day in our family.
If all that babble was lost on you, just remember this.  The local park is a wonderful place once you’ve experienced it.  Pass it on.

7 Responses to “It only takes a park…”

  1. Mimi Says:

    Happy Sabbath! Looks like Alice had a wonderful day in the park. Where is the park?

  2. Granny Says:

    Come on up Alice, I’ll be scoping out the park situation up here!

  3. Mimi Says:

    Great daddy observations (except the shoes situation!) on his daughter.

  4. Hilary Says:

    I didn’t want to mention the shoes. I thought it meant she had put them on herself. Dictoddler is awesome.

  5. Heather Says:

    The shoes match each other and the outfit: many accolades for you!

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