I am sick, SICK, of spending half my life at children’s playgrounds. What I didn’t realise when I had a baby was just how quickly after arriving on the planet she would develop an addiction to playgrounds.
Maybe because I’m 42 and haven’t been on a slide, swing, roundabout since the age of eight, I had forgotten how much children adore them.
When I take Mary out in her pram, it’s as though she’s fitted with some sort of sensor, for if we tread within 200 yards of a play area, she sits bolt upright, points in the direction of the swings and begins to scream so hysterically it’s as if I am whacking her around the face with a fish slice.
It leaves me with no other option than to traipse over to the park in question with a very heavy heart for I know this is where I’m destined to spend at least the next two hours of my increasingly depressing life.
It’s difficult to imagine now but once upon a time I did what I wanted, when I wanted. If I wanted to go for a walk I did it. If I wanted to go rock climbing I did it.
But now my life is ruled by my child.
And here’s the thing about the playground: it’s never a quick visit. Once we’re there, we’re there indefinitely, for she never seems to tire of it.
The swing is her favourite. Last week I pushed her for one hour 13 minutes. I stopped on several occasions, mainly because I had violent cramp in both wrists, but each time she began bawling so loudly several other parents rushed over as if suspecting some sort of abuse had occurred.
Faced with a vigilante mob and the wrath of my own offspring, I had to start pushing again. When we eventually got home, I lay prostrate on the settee with a bag of frozen peas strapped to each of my inflamed arms.
What really infuriates me is that despite all these repeated trips to the park she still hasn’t learnt how to use it properly.
Take the slide. The concept is simple. You climb the steps, sit, and slide to the bottom, then repeat.
Mary, however, possibly because she’s the adventurous type but more likely because she’s thick, attempts to walk up the slide.
While I applaud her sense of daring and anarchy, what she doesn’t realise is that she isn’t capable of doing this and halfway up – about six feet above the ground – will inevitably topple sideways and plunge headfirst towards the concrete below. I have lost count of the number of times I have saved her life.
As I catch her before she hurtles towards her death, like Superman saving that kid who fell over Niagara Falls, she doesn’t thank me but instead glares at me, tuts and shakes her head as if to say, ‘why are you spoiling my fun?’
It’s becoming harder to resist the urge to let her drop to the ground. I have warned Mary about this behaviour but she isn’t taking my words on board.
Which leads me to another thing – she doesn’t seem to be developing very quickly.
It’s disappointing for I’d hoped to raise a child genius.
Mozart, for instance, could play the piano at 18 months old. At the same age my daughter is still trying to eat the cat’s food from its bowl.
Mrs C, bless her, continues to labour under the illusion that Mary is somehow gifted and advanced. She’ll say things like, ‘the staff at nursery say she’s excellent at animal noises. When the teacher said sheep, Mary was the first to go “baa”.’
What she doesn’t take into account is all the other children can not only put full sentences together but can discuss the implications of a soft Brexit.
It’s getting embarrassing. Less time on the playground and more time reading is the answer, if only I could get her off the damn swing...