My kids love after dinner trips to the park.
Times have changed, and now when we go to the park I can sit on the sidelines while they play. Sometimes I use the time to take my dog for a walk or I bring a book and sit on the bench and read while they play with other kids.
I look on at the toddler parents as they follow their little ones around the playground, with fond memories of those years, but at peace that we are past that stage now.
There is a message that I want to pass on to those parents of the little ones. It’s something they don’t yet recognize but they will face before they’re ready to. Older kids need to play too.
I see the frustration in their face as my kids race around the play structure playing tag or grounders or some other game of cat and mouse.
I remember following my toddler around the playground, afraid that a big kid would knock them over in their haste to make it to the top of the slide first.
I also understand that your little one might be shaky on his their feet, still learning to walk. I get that they are exploring their world and are curious about my big kid.
I was there too.
What I ask of you is to remember that my kids still need to run around. They need to burn off their energy. They too want to end the day climbing monkey bars and racing down slides.
Rest assured I have already reminded my kids to be careful and that my kids are very aware of the little ones on the scene. Usually, you will find them offering their hand to their small friends trying to help them up the stairs. If you look closely you will notice them patiently waiting for their turn as your little one tries to figure out how to get themselves down the slide.
It’s hard to see it when they are towering over your tiny human but try to remember that they are kids themselves.
The funny thing about kids is that they are by nature a little self centred.
They aren’t intentionally setting out to knock your toddler over and in fact they feel quite bad if they do.
But sometimes they get really excited and run too fast. They are trying so hard to win the game of tag that in a moment of sheer joy they might race past your little one without even thinking.
I know it’s hard to imagine when you’re in the throws of terrible twos or when you have tiny arms wrapped around your neck. But you will get there. Trust me. You will wake up one day and realize that those tiny toes now have a little stink to them and that evening baths have turned into showers and you aren’t even a part of them anymore.
You will head out for after dinner trips to the park and you will sit on the sidelines while your kids play. You will smile as you watch them help a little one get up the stairs. And you will be happy that they are running around in the end of day sunshine.
But, you aren’t there yet. Tonight you are trying to explain to your sweet little bean why they can’t jump off the highest point of the play structure like the big kids did.
Like my kids just did.
Tonight, you are cringing as my big kids race right past your wobbly toddler but I hope, if even for a moment, you can take a step back and recognize that not that long ago, my big kids were little, like your kids, and all they want to do is play.