the playground is a battlefield. i've seen children go from sharing to sparring over beach toys and sliding boards. sandboxes, like territories, guarded by crusty-faced two year olds refusing to let the "new to toddler life" babies come in. i've been given the evil eye by mothers, there with fathers, if i so much as glanced at their husbands, and damn near fly-kicked if i dared to help their child on the monkey bars. i've learned that brown mothers will tell their whole life story: how good or bad their child's father is or how she hasn't been out with her girlfriends in three years and that breast-feeding hurt too much to continue on. learned, too, that beige mothers will tell nothing of their personal lives, (almost dramatically so), will forget to ask you, your child's name, will recommend the best places to, both, entertain and educate your 'littles' and have no problem breast-feeding well into their child's adolescent years. i've been invited on play dates by women i'd never befriend and other dates by sneaky, slimy, whispering men.
but it's worth the battle scars.
i've watched my child conquer the toddler slide, make friends with babies who looked different than she, and learn words simply by playing and listening to peers. she flourishes outdoors, kicks her shoes off and feels the sand in her toes type flourish. i watch her come alive, among smiles and a choir of teeny squeals, and i melt. every time we walk through these wooden castle gates her entire soul just opens up. so a few times a week, i slap on war paint, plaster a smile and make the wretched journey to a place where insecurity and culture clash reign, slinging boogie wipes and sippy cups in my duffle bag. dear mommies: it's on. and i takes no prisoners.