Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday At The Park


Yesterday I took Paprika to the park. I parked over by the rose garden so that we could have a a low-key park day. The playground is about 1/4 mile from the rose garden, and usually when I park by the rose garden we never make it to the playground because Paprika gets too distracted exploring the park's gardens.


We happened to get out of the car at the same time as a father and his almost 4 year old daughter. The little girl was adorable, with long braids, and was exactly the same height as Paprika. The moment her feet touched the ground, she started running at top speed for the playground, 1/4 mile away. Paprika happened to get out of our car at the same time, and when she saw this little girl, she immediately wanted to be best friends with her. So, naturally, when this little girl started running, Paprika did, too.


The little girl was very fast, but of course, Paprika can keep up! Paprika ran faster than I have ever seen her run. The little girl's dad (who, by the way, was not 8 months pregnant), was keeping up with the girls pretty well. But, I was not. I was waddling, and yelling after Paprika to come back. But, of course, she would not listen to me. It was as if I didn't exist or she had gone temporarily deaf!


Paprika buzzed right past the rose garden, right past the open field, and was at the playground in a matter of minutes. Once I made it over there, I sat Paprika down and had a very firm talk with her about running away in public, and how we behave and don't behave. I also told her that if she did that again, we wouldn't be able to go to the park anymore. Mean mommy!


On one hand, I choose to take Paprika to places where I know she will be safe if she runs off because I know that in my current state, I can't catch her if she runs. This park is fenced off from traffic, and even as far as she ran I could keep eye contact with her so that I knew no one was going to snatch her.

On the other hand, it's not okay for her to run off like that. In times like those, I have to play the enforcer role, and be the disciplinary parent...which is hard, because I want her to feel free, and be able to run...but I also absolutely want her to be safe. It's a tough balance- I don't want to say "no" all the time, but I also want her to listen to me. So, I try to say "no" only when it's really important- like a safety issue.


After our big talk where I was very stern, she stuck by my side the whole rest of the park trip. No more episodes of running away, thank goodness.


We went home at sunset, hung out at our house for awhile, and then Mr. Mustard came home from work. We put Paprika to bed, had a good dinner, and watched Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. The movie was pretty eye-opening, and heartbreaking...I think even more so if you're a parent.


I went to bed feeling so appreciative for what we have, for our life, for the life we are giving Paprika. It made me never want to complain about anything again...especially stupid things like wanting a backyard or a new lens for my camera. We have a roof over our head, a warm place to sleep, the love of family...what more is there we could want?


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