I have five children. They range in age from 5-11. One of the things that they all still enjoy is when I take them to a playground. So far, we have found four playgrounds in our community.
I decided to do the good "dad thing" and take the kids to the playground yesterday. One of the rules before we leave the house to go to a playground is that everyone goes to the bathroom first. (I've included the previous sentence as a piece of literary foreshadowing). The first playground we drove to was Mannino Park. This is a brand new playground in our community. There are new ballfields, a new playground, new dog run areas, and the new YMCA which opens this month is also on the property. We've been to this playground several times over the summer and we have always had the entire place to ourseves. The kids like this park because it is the only one we go to that has enough swings for all five of them to swing at the same time. When we arrived at Mannino Park yesterday it was obvious that our secret park had been revealed to the community. It was overrun with activity. It appeared that the clientele was mothers with 1 and 2 year old toddlers.
My kids didn't like their chances for the swings at Mannino Park, so they asked if we could try another place. Normally I might have encouraged them to make friends and learn to share, but earlier in the afternoon I had seen a park that I had not seen before and I was anxious to check it out. So I drove us over to Veterans Park- just a mile or two away. As we approached it was obvious that there was a shortage of swings and that the slides had a shortage of height. Upon closer inspection, my older children reported to me that there were bad words on the playground equipment. I might have been concerned about the boredom of the older kids; however, it was at this ponit that Charissa, the youngest of the bunch, informed me that she needed to use the restroom. This should not be a problem. We were right next to a building that appeared to be restrooms for the park. I took her over there, but all the doors were locked. But in the opposite direction there was another building. I think that it was on our walk to the second building that I asked Charissa why she had not gone to the bathroom before we left the house. Her response was that she had gone, but now she needed to go again. When we arrived at the second building I was relieved that it was labeled as restrooms. My daughter, however, did not get to be relieved, as this building was also securely locked.
We returned to the playground where the oldest children were playing on what little equipment was there- and to my older kids it really was "little" equipment. They were learning the hard way about sharing. I'm not sure that they were learning to share as much as displaying the selfish sin nature which they inherited from Adam. We stayed a little while later, at which time it became obvious from the "potty dance" that we needed to leave. It was at this time that I was mildly attacked by a swarm of bees. I just swatted them away, but Nicole (my oldest daughter) was pretty freaked out.
We piled back into the Suburban and headed home. But instead of heading home I decided that we could try a third park- a park where I know they have restrooms because I have taken children to those restrooms before. I drove us over to Geick Park (pronounce it as if it ryhmes with "like"). I parked in the parking lot that was closest to the bathrooms. The kids all got out of the car and they all headed down toward the restrooms. They ran ahead of me and came back to report the ominous news- these bathrooms were also locked. By the way, the "potty dance" was still taking place. I finally acknowledged defeat. I drove the children home. As we were pulling into the driveway my son Matt asked, "Daddy, after Charissa goes to the bathroom, can we go to a playground?"
How would you respond? What do you think I did?