Playground Pick Up — by Jamie
It’s a shame I can’t bring my daughter with me to a singles bar—she’s really great at breaking the ice with everyone around us. Sometimes, she’ll just stare at strangers with her big, blue eyes, and get their attention—as well as welcoming smiles. Other times, our conversation will attract someone’s interest. Jayda’s becoming a real chatterbox—and an inquisitive one, at that—and the comments and questions she peppers me with often amuse people who are within hearing range. She’s been obsessed lately with the concept of “buying things,” and actually asked me very loudly the other day, “Mommy, who bought my tushie?” That certainly got a reaction out of passersby! Jayda’s also, simply, a very attractive child, who constantly garners compliments from strangers about her beautiful curls and “Shirley Temple” look. Regardless, when we’re out and about, she always gets attention. And I, in turn, get some, too. Especially at the playground.
During the week, weather permitting, I pick Jayda up from her daycare, and we head out to a nearby elementary school’s playground; it’s close to our house and very age-appropriate. Over time, Jayda has “collected” a group of friends and admirers who frequent the playground, too—and who help keep both of us entertained. When the school’s after-hours program emerges on the playground in the late afternoon, there are two teacher’s aides whom Jayda approaches enthusiastically: One is a middle-aged woman who always hugs Jayda and chats with her about her day, and another is a woman in her late-20s who gives Jayda animal crackers and whom my daughter follows around like a puppy. Many of the kids in this program know Jayda, too, and wave and smile at her in welcome.
There are also a few nannies who frequent the playground with their charges. Jayda knows each of them by name—and often gets treats from them all. Then, there are the newcomers: Mothers whom we’ve never seen before, but who encourage their children to play with Jayda, and who chat with me while our kids swing next to each other, and run around. I enjoy the camaraderie and grown up conversations, and time passes quickly for me, while Jayda plays happily.
Best of all, there are the daddies…but since most “eligible” men are working in the late afternoon, they are few and far between. Once in awhile, however, Jayda will find a man to bat her eyelashes at, and I will have a conversation with him as a result. It would be nice if Jayda would learn to look at men’s ring fingers first, though, since she rarely “introduces” me to a single man!
Lately, I’ve found myself in a completely new situation—spending time with an unattractive, but incredibly friendly (in a non-flirtatious way) married man, whose adorable, incredibly-well-mannered son has befriended Jayda. They look for us every afternoon—sometimes bringing snacks or toys to share with Jayda. I truly adore the boy—but don’t have much to say to his father; most of the time, we just share anecdotes about our kids. However, he just invited us to play at his house one day this week, and I accepted his invitation because Jayda reacted so enthusiastically to it. I trust the guy…and know Jayda will have an amazing time playing in his home. I’m just not all that eager to socialize with him. And isn’t that what play dates are for—fun for Jayda, and good conversation and company for me?! Well, I’ve been through plenty of bad dates in the past, and I’ve always made it through unscathed. I’ve also made plenty of sacrifices for my daughter, before. So, once again, I’ll do what’s good for Jayda—make our plans, prepare for the worst, and hope that I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Stay tuned…