It’s immensely hot in Texas right now; possibly the hottest May on record. This poses problems with a highly active one-year-old because I can’t take her anywhere after about 10:00 a.m. Fortunately, swimming is indoors, but I was still symptomatic yesterday and there are infants at swimming; plus, I wasn’t really up for it yet. So I took Edith to the nearby playground at nine. Even that early, it was almost too hot to go. I had to walk really slowly until we got to the other, shadier neighborhood.
The park was uncharacteristically crowded. First, a man came by playing jazz on a small speaker and walking with an ancient obese golden lab (Maggie) who stopped every four steps to sit by the path and pant and smile pleasantly at everyone. We talked for a bit (the man and I, not the dog) and he asked about Edith and talked about his grown sons.
Meanwhile a gang of preteens arrived — four boys and a girl. They were all getting to the age where the boys were ganging up on the girl, and after they had isolated her by taking the only four swings and then telling her to move so she didn’t get kicked in the head, she captured the oldest boy’s cellphone and attempted to reestablish her position in the group by needling him in the following way:
“OMG what is this, you have a girlfriend?”
“No, that’s that girl from Vegas.”
“OMG then what is this, you reply here, and it says ‘love you, too’!?!?!?!”
“Sure,” he said easily. “Is it illegal to say you love someone.”
The girl spluttered, having been utterly check-mated, and I felt for her.
Meanwhile one of the smaller boys was trying to tell some sort of joke, but no one was listening. He was sure it was going to be a real winner, though, so he started it five different times that I heard. Every time he said,
“How do you get a girlfriend? Step one, go to your local convenience store. Step two, buy an AK-47.”
He never got further than that, and although I think I really didn’t want to hear what the rest of the joke was, I sort of did?
Meanwhile, Maggie (the golden lab) at some point refused to go any further, and rather than continuing on their walk, her owner conceded the point to her gentle yet insistent passive resistance, and turned around to go home.
At the same time, Edith and I were having a battle — Edith’s nanny keeps snacks in the stroller for her and Edith has gotten used to helping herself to them whenever she wants one. Last time I took her to the park, I did not bring enough, resulting in tears and an early end of plans, so this time I had stocked up. Unfortunately it now became clear that Edith’s interest in having a continual incoming stream of snacks was not to eat them, but rather to have one gripped in her fist as she ran around and climbed on things and dug in the dirt. So, her cracker or whatever would get rubbed all over the ground, the sidewalks, and the play equipment and she’d periodically nibble on it. I was opposed to this, so I kept following along after her and taking it from her whenever she ground it into the dirt, at which point, she would scream bloody murder. When she began to scream, if we were on the same half of the playground as the gang of preteens, they would all hurriedly move to the other half of the playground, and I would also usually give her snack back.
So, of all the various factions wrestling for social dominance at the playground yesterday, the clear winners were my daughter (14 mo.) and Maggie the fat lab. I think that’s as it should be.