Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Apparently Sunday was the day that parents of toddlers in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill gave up the ghost. Weeks of being shut up inside with small, vocal, bull headed little creatures has sapped their reserves and they have caved. Sunday provided a little sunshine and some half decent temperatures so when I went to the park with the dog the place was crawling with toddlers and their parents all seemed to be sporting the 1,000 yard stare.

Coming up the slope I saw a young man of about 3 piling sticks up against a tree. He kept exhorting his mother to help. She was keeping a minimum 20 feet of distance from him and talking furtively into her cell phone with her sweatshirt hood pulled firmly up. As I passed him the boy howled with indignation to nobody in particular.

Over by the tennis courts a largish group of dads and kids were gathered. The dog skirted them to sniff some bushes. One tiny girl in a white knit hat was being divested of a slimy tennis ball by her dad. She began to wander toward us and he asked her about her water bottle and she handed it over. When he walked away (possibly into the next county, what the hell? Truly it took him probably 3 full minutes to come back) to put the water away Little White Hat came for the dog. She genially thumped the dog on the spine and Emily obliged her with a sniff while I waited for the usual screeching parent to come yank the kid away. No dice. The dog seemed to think, "This one has no cheerios. She is no use to us." and turned away. The child followed. In fits and starts, stopping to smush mud and pick up sticks, little white hat followed us. I couldn't see dad and so I'm sure he couldn't see us. Every so often the kid gently and gleefully thumped the dog and the dog agreeably failed to notice. Just as I was about to have to figure out how to keep the dog and myself from skidding into the brambles when I had to lunge to save the kid from the steep incline she was courting dad showed. Dad ambled. Dad strolled. Once he saw the pricker bushes at the bottom of the rocky incline he picked up the pace but his heart wasn't in it, you could tell.

On we walked, avoiding the under 5 set as best we could but on the home stretch they were throwing themselves in our path. Phone Mom had increased her distance to at least 50 feet and I heard her say to her phone companion, "He's picked up some older lady and he's having her carry sticks for him." She sounded horrified at the prospect but as though it were completely out of her control. Having heard the guy howl, it may have been out of her control. Just at that moment an older lady, who was indeed carrying sticks as directed by The Howler, turned and said to Phone Mom, "I'm the gardener here." Her tone made it difficult to decipher whether that meant, "I'm the perfect person for this job." or "And I need to get back to my actual job now. HELP!" Phone Mom did not reply. Howler boy was pretty damned pleased, though.

Just steps later I came face to face with Strolling Dad and Little White Hat. She smushed some mud, smiled and thumped the dog again. The dog was unimpressed. Dad said, "Hello again" in a way that made me suspect he was wondering if I might be bribed to trail his daughter around the park so he could just go grab a cup of coffee alone for once dammit. I smiled and moved on. 'Cause I'm heartless like that.

I myself am not handling the eternal twilight of this time of year very well and you can bet your bottom dollar I would not be better off if I was trying to keep an antsy child occupied. Chins up you guys, spring has to get here soon, right?


  1. Oh, I SO understand this. This time of year - mid-January to about the end of March - sucks HARD for me. I'm ready for either a vacation or an extended hibernation - neither of which are forthcoming...

  2. Oh! Maybe THAT's it! ProfDocToddler has been a PILL of late. "Hush little baby, don't say a word. Mommy thinks you're acting like a little turd..."

  3. Chili, that must have been especially difficult the year you were incredibly pregnant.