Monday, August 20, 2007

Play

It is late afternoon on a dry, windless summer day. Chip is trying to pedal his trike – he pedals a few times, but whines in frustration. "Dhakal, Dhakal" he orders me. I bend down once again and push him on his trike. He shouts in glee and we trundle down the sidewalk on our way to the little tot lot.

The typically empty tot lot has a few kids today. One is a toddler; the other two are a bit older. Their parents – a pudgy woman in her late thirties with plump pasty legs and a small, dapper man with a balding head and a goatee are sharing orange juice from a bottle, absorbed in talking. They hardly glance as Chip dives with a roar in to the tire chips on the ground and picks a handful. I am watching Chip with my famous Mommy stare – chin down, eyebrows raised ever so slightly, lips pursed. He catches my eye and drops the grimy chips to the ground. "I want to bas zhopal." He hops to where the swings are. I lift him, put him in the bucket and give it a gentle push. "No, no Aie. Ajoon motha, zhopal motha pahijey." I obey and swing him harder until he is giggling silly, eyes opened wide in amazement. Ten minutes later, I am tired. "Chip, ghasar-gundi var jaa aata." I try coaxing him. "No gundi." This boy knows what he wants. But just about then, the tot-lot-gods pity this exhausted mother and one of the kids comes in Chip's full view and lets out a "Whee" as he comes down the slide. "I want gundi, I want ghasar gundi" Chip has changed his mind.

Now the slides are meant for older kids. 5-12. It says so on the little sign posted on the gigantic equipment. Four slides, one monkey bar, one metal plate bridge, two climbing poles, one ladder all joined together in a superstructure. Chip climbs the stairs, goes to the biggest slide and slides down. I sit on a bench. The tot lot is a busy place. Despite the heat, or in spite of it. There are more kids, bigger kids. Chip is trying to climb the ladder. "You are too little." I smile fondly. "Take the steps." As he reaches the landing, he sees another girl, of about five years or so standing there. "Hi." Chip says brightly and waves. Sullenly, the girl ignores him. "Hi" still smiling, Chip says loudly. "Go away" she glowers. Chip looks confused and crestfallen. He looks at me. I resist the overwhelming urge to 1)swoop him in my arms and give him a kiss 2)Give the snotty girl a piece of my mind. He needs to figure this one out for himself. He hesitates for a second, but decides to come down the slide.

"Majaa aali?" I ask him. "Uh-huh" He runs away to climb the swaying metal plate bridge.

Within seconds he has forgotten the girl. But I haven't and won't for a while at least. These incidents have a nasty habit of sticking in the back of my mind and no matter what I do, I can't shake them off. Like the teenaged boy in the grocery store, who avoided Chip like he had the plague when Chip, who was browsing the cereal boxes, hadn't even said a word but Chip quizzically noticed his look later, or another big boy in another tot lot who booed Chip and scared the wits out of him for no reason, or the time when another girl viciously pushed Chip because he had climbed in to the little toy buggy with her, or the time when so many such times have been and so many such times will yet be. How many such times until Chip turns wary, or worse cynical. I catch myself before my thoughts spiral in to gloomy whorl. Oh Well. He will be fine. I straighten up blaming the joyless moment on the dog days of summer.





6 comments:

~nm said...

:D So chip had a good time at the tot lot! Great pictures! The weather seems nice!

And come on..don't think abotu the girl not wanting to play with Chip. Its ok. :) I know you also think its OK but it does pinch for a whiel as to why wouldn't anyone watn to llay with our smiling, sweet babies!

Something to Say said...

I ALWAYS have the urge to whack the parents - who dont teach their kids to be friendly. In fact - if ever I see sonny ignoring some kid who wants to be friendly - I end up making hazaar excuses about his mood, teething issues, shyness....
And dont think too much about sullen girl.... Chip will have lotsa potsa friends of the non-sullen variety :)

Kodi's Mom said...

this happens to K too..on the rare occassions that he says a smiley 'hi', to other kids in the park..they either give him the cold shoulder or run away. how can I encourage him to be friendly when his feeble attempts arent reciprocated? even the neighbor girl who comes to play with him, never returns his hi or bye, just comes and goes. I have to tell her each time - 'please say bye to him before you leave'!
ugh...maybe greetings and goodbyes have become unfashionable...

DotMom said...

~nm: wait until he gets a girlfriend :) if she ever dares to...

something to say: thanks..i do hope he gets lotsa friends

k's mom: wow. i really hope this is not a sign of things to come, fashion wise..

the mad momma said...

ah.. i live with that. my son runs around kissing other kiddies and handing them his toys and they run away and i feel like shaking them till their teeth rattle. but i smile and say to their parents - oh they must be teething... never mind.

and hey - i didnt get any of the marathi - go on, give us subtitles!

DotMom said...

MM: ah, the mis manners approach.. I should try that next time, thanks :)
as far as marathi goes, i thought it would be inferred from the rest of the writing. uh-oh. will do subtitles next time..