Remember way back in grade school when we would all go outside for recess? Sure the playground was fun, but it was also the cut-your-teeth ground; kids calling each other names, pushing each other down, trying to figure out who they are and aren’t. As adults and parents, we take our kids to the play ground and, well, nothing much has changed. Parents pair off into groups and talk about all the things going on, who’s a bad parent and did you hear what so and so did? Nothing much has changed since second grade.
I’ll admit I have a little adult playground anxiety: I’m the “new parent” in town. As we reestablish ourselves here in Florida, I want to keep Hayden on his regular routine, which involves a daily trip to the playground. It’s the perfect way for him to play with other kids his age, try new things, climb, run, slide and occasionally fall. Finding a new playground might sound simple enough but for me it presents a few difficulties. For one, I hate being outside. And two, I suffer socially. Most of the time I push through it and do the best I can simply because I don’t want my own anxieties to trickle down and affect our son.
Needless to say, I was so scared to go to a new playground in the town where we’re currently living while we stay with my parents. Here in Florida, it seems like not much has changed since the 50s. Moms tend to go in the morning and dads tend to go in the afternoon while the moms are at home fixin’ dinner. So sexist.
It’s no secret that my biggest concern with the move has been people’s attitudes toward our family. How will people react to the gay dad on the play ground? Will they still be ok with Hayden playing with their kids? My defenses are up: I keep thinking there’s a big group of narrow-minded republicans who will at any minute start talking trash, attacking our family.
But as it turns out, no one seems to care. Which leads me to believe that actually, I’m the one with the problem. My problem isn’t just being outdoors. It’s also the fact that maybe I need to revisit my own stereotypes and prejudices. But for now I’ll celebrate the day as I conquered my playground fears!