Yesterday morning, I took Edith to the new playground in “downtown” Kyle. They recently redid the town square with new landscaping and a large playground and when we arrived, I was thrilled to see that there is a toddler-sized playscape. Edith is constantly climbing up the regular sized ones and she’s really too little for them and then I have to climb up behind her hanging on to her arm, and chase her around and worry about her falling off. This little one was Edith-sized and she could climb up it all by herself and go down the slides and everything! Plus the playground had a soft, spongy artificial turf for safe falls. It was perfect.

So of course, I couldn’t interest her in it at all. When presented with the perfect playground, Edith immediately ran out of the playground and spent most of the time running around in the landscaped rose bushes, trying to play with some boxes of electrical equipment, digging in the dirt running path, and climbing up and down some extremely steep concrete steps. Every time I picked her up and set her in the playground again, she ran at full tilt out of it. So I resigned myself and just followed her around ready to intervene as she exposed herself to myriad hazards.

Meanwhile, a little girl came up to us as soon as we arrived.

“Who do we have here?” she said, and I introduced her to Edith. “This is Chuck,” she said of a purple stuffed triceratops she was holding.

From there, this little girl attached herself to us and followed us all around the park (as Edith did her parkour and I tried to keep up with her), prattling away. It took me awhile to figure out what was going on, but around about the time she started talking about how she knew a guy named Romeo of all things who was interested in her and called her at her job, and she said why are you calling me at WORK, what are men thinking, I realized that she had presented herself to me as a fellow Mom. Chuck was her “baby” and we were now moms hanging out. This was confirmed when she asked Edith’s age, and I said that Edith was 14 months and she said that actually Chuck was also 14 months and not one as she had said before, he was clearly much too small for one, she didn’t know what she was thinking.

After we had hung out for fully half an hour and I had heard everything about this little girl’s imaginary life as Chuck’s mom, her own real life mother (who she’d previously referred to as her aunt) got off the phone call she’d been on and called her over to her, where she clearly told the little girl to leave us alone.

After that, the little girl played alone, looking abashed, and every time Edith ran up to her or I smiled at her, she shot us a resentful glare and ran in the other direction while trying not to cry. Later another little girl came to the playground and our little girl went up to her and said quietly, “would you like to play with me?” but the second little girl was too young and ignored her.

The pathos of childhood is fucking brutal. I don’t really know how I’m going to survive it again, it breaks my whole entire heart.

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