It's one of those modern playgrounds with the wood structure and brilliant colored awnings and wood chips and even a porch swing. It makes the playgrounds of my childhood look dangerous and dysfunctional.
I had pen and paper with me, so I tinkered with my to-do list while the girls climbed and yelled and played. A wasp buzzed around us and my insect-terrified younger daughter ran up to me repeatedly to inform me of the danger.
It's funny. When you're a kid, you can't imagine something that would hurt worse than getting stung by a wasp. Of course as an adult, you know that things like dry sockets and childbirth and kidney stones are a far, far worse pain, but praise be to God, my girls don't know anything about that level of hurt. No, a wasp sting is just about The Worst Thing.
The wasp lands and lingers near my hand and I don't even flinch.
On their feet are the brand new shoes that had just arrived in the mail that day. Stride Rites, even. Our cheaper alternatives haven't been holding up as well as they used to, and I found these for a great price on eBay. Sparkly and shiny and new. So of course they wanted to wear them to the playground.
Please quit scuffing up your new shoes. We just got them!
They try to be careful for a few minutes, but within minutes of each warning from me, I hear it: scuff scuff scuff.
I open my mouth to scold again, when from within the Voice of Reason interrupts me. "What kind of fool lets her children wear new shoes to the playground, anyway? Shoes are going to get scuffed. Let it go."
It's funny. When you're a kid, you can't imagine why grown-ups are always getting on to you about not scuffing up your shoes. You can't imagine you'll ever be someone who believes that
unscuffed shoes > having fun.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized you know what? I don't want to raise daughters who are afraid of getting scuffed shoes. I can't imagine anything worse than raising women who are too delicate or too precious or too refined to get out there and wrinkle their clothes or mess up their hair or break a nail.
More importantly, I know that change never comes without hard work. I want my girls to be change-makers. I want them leading the charge, not standing on the sidelines worrying over their manicure. If they are to do anything meaningful with their lives, they'll have to dirty their shoes.
Scuff scuff scuff
Their eyes snap to my face, watching and waiting for correction. It's okay, I say. Just shoes, I say. I close my eyes and smile and listen to the work of play.
And I don't even flinch.