25 July 2012

The Hazards of Going to the Park #1: Beware Short Predators

Way too cool for school, gonna stay cute forever
I am about to have a very very serious problem and I'm not sure what to do about it. In about a year and a half my kid will turn 5 and I have discovered that I really don't like 5 year old boys very much. At all. Actually, that's not totally true. I have friends with boys who are 5 and I like these guys just fine. It's the 5 year old boys I meet at the park that I really don't like. (I should probably hire an editor at this point because that sounds not at all like I want it to sound.) For some reason I am a lonely 5 year old magnet at the park. (Shut up.) Absolutely every time we go to the park some 5 year old (and they are always exactly 5 years old) will see me and start pulling some crazy stunt on the slide to catch my attention, like going down backwards on his head or something. This evolves into role playing a favorite super hero going down the slide which is actually now a huge tidal wave threatening the entire city at the bottom. All the while eyeballing me very intently to be sure I am 1) watching, 2) thoroughly impressed, 3) buying it.
When I have been sufficiently scrutinized for the above qualities, said 5 year old will then quickly role play through all of his favorite daytime TV cartoon characters and then all the pixar heroes until he sees the glimmer of recognition in my eyes at which point he's got a conversational in with me and we can now begin discussing all of his 347 favorite movies and TV shows on nickelodeon. Once the conversation actually starts is when I am really screwed, because this conversation (which is really just a monologue) can go on INDEFINITELY. I have never actually let the monologue go on for more than an hour and 23 minutes but I assure you this kid will skip the juice box and ice cream sandwich the chance to go check out the new cars installation at disneyland to just be able to keep talking to me about all the fascinating things that happen to a 5 year old on a daily basis.

At about 26 minutes is when I usually begin looking around for the absentee parent. The parent who has not checked in once with the 5 year old who is now following me around the park extolling the virtues of goldfish crackers and capri suns. I imagine the parent at the perimeter of the park hiding behind a tree with binoculars a pack of smokes and a 40 doing everything he can to work himself into an early grave because the never ending monologue has finally eroded every bit of sanity he ever had. (Not once have I been rescued by lonely 5 year old's mom or dad, in fact lonely 5 year old's mom or dad want me to believe he walked to the park all by himself. Maybe they're hoping I take him in like a stray but I'm telling you, once you feed them they NEVER LEAVE. EVER.)

This is what I have learned about lonely 5 year old though: he doesn't seem to notice or care when you completely and totally pretend like he's not there. This does not deter him in the least but at least it is an opportunity to really refine the great skill of ignoring unwanted behavior. I have also learned to see lonely 5 year old coming a mile away and I've figured out that if you treat him like an angry bear (don't make eye contact, don't turn away but back up very slowly, keep backing up, if he starts to chase you run in a straight line down hill and whatever you do - don't tree yourself) you stand a chance of making it out alive.

Holy Moly I just remembered that I had a 5 year old stalking me back when I was pregnant and living out in the country. He lived across a big field from me and would travel by himself through coyote and rattlesnake territory (sometimes at dusk) to come and squish his nose up against my front picture window to see if I was home and wanted to come out and play. I swear to god it's true. I had to walk him home once after the sun had set and explain to his city mother that I had seen coyotes and rattlesnakes in my front yard. My non-smoking habit is in serious jeopardy if my kid turns 5 and starts to exhibit the signs. This may be reason enough to consider the second child option even though I'm almost 40, I'm developing arthritis and coloring the grey hair, and I may even be exhibiting early signs of dementia jeezlouise.

Hey lady, wanna watch me act out the entire storyline of Despicable Me?

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