On Friday I met my parents at a really lovely park. 500 acres, resident deer, a lake – and a favourite with the #0938ers – an awesome adventure playground.
We left the playground until the end (do it first and it’d be tantrums and tearing them away…) and they loved it. My youngest was content to play in a little wooden house, up and down the stairs he went. Sliding down the tiniest of slides, perfect for him. Although he was most perturbed when another little boy joined – the look on his face screamed ‘how dare he!’, what he actually said was: “Mummy – boy!” I tried my best to reassure him, but he wasn’t happy until the other party left (I feel need the add – of his own accord!).
My eldest meanwhile was busying herself with climbing. “Now I’m four I can go on this can’t I mummy. Now that I’m four.” She was climbing wooden frames and balancing on wires, loving every minute. The frame culminated at the slide and she was pleased as punch to make it.
Whilst she played I’d been conscious of a couple of teenage boys on the wire basket swing to my right. They were out of place. Sure the park caters for older kids (and the young at heart – even I couldn’t resist a go on the zip wire) but all partaking guests were pretty much under the age of eight – at most. They were in earshot of my little family and others, and when one shouted at the top of his voice “For Fucks sake!” My head spun round faster than the kid in the Exorcist. My death stare obviously hit the mark as for a split second he looked abashed.
Don’t get me wrong, we are not without a little potty mouth action in our house, but we TRY our best not do it within earshot of tiny ears. If nothing else, to prevent the “What’s that mummy?” response it would undoubtedly invoke! But a big kid in a park full of little ones – there really was no need.
As it turns out my death stare wasn’t quite as impactful as I thought. As my proud little miss reached her summit, she let out a joyful chorus of “I’m the King of the Castle and you’re the dirty rascal!!!” Face beaming with pride. What does the teenage terror do? Jumps out of his swing, leaps up the wooden frame and stands on the very top saying “who’s the King of the Castle now mate?! Hey? who’s the king now?!”
Every fibre of my being wanted to grab the imbeciles ankles, yank him down and ask him the same question as I stood over him. But of course I didn’t. No. 1 it wouldn’t have been the best example to set and No. 2 he was bigger than me so it was doubtful I could have even done it (although you never know with that Lioness spirit I mentioned in my ‘Car Captive’ post….!). So what do I say? I kept it simple. “Really?!” Accompanied once more by the death stare.
There’s a small part of me that wished I’d let rip at the coward. Trying to intimidate a little girl isn’t cool and definitely not acceptable. I could have screamed at him, called him every name under the sun. But let’s face it, what would have it achieved? It would have made me feel a bit better maybe, enabled me to let off the steam that had whipped up inside me. But. What would he have done? Said? You have to pick your fights and one with a teenager in front of my eldest wasn’t one I needed.
Thankfully my little lady was oblivious. His outburst coincided with her “Wheeeeeeeeee” down the slide. She merrily continued on her way, back to the start of the climbing frame. The teenager terror climbed back down, feeling my stare with every step he took. He didn’t look at me. He and his mate scampered off. I continued to stare. Seething.
The weather obviously took note of my mood. And the grey clouds swooped in. We dashed for the car (ok – not strictly possible with two little ones. I cajoled, bribed…anything to get them to leave before the rain started) and once I’d strapped them in I turned my attention to the pushchair and paraphernalia. Just as I was putting the last item in the boot, the two teenagers terrors reemerged. I’m ashamed to say that for a second I felt vulnerable (my parents had already gone and the park rapidly emptied with the change in the weather) but then I took check of myself. And continued on as if they weren’t even there. My babies were safe inside after all. And what did the terrors do? Both of them gave a joint rendition of “Who’s the King of the Castle”. And it actually made me smile.
Maybe they’d never had someone reprimand their language, someone be proud of all the little achievements – like climbing an adventure playground frame, OR maybe they were just being idiots. And teenage kids. Either way I felt sorry for them. As, as I climbed into my car and drove off, I left them in the rain.’Kings’ they might have thought they were, but in that moment as the heavens opened, they were very wet ‘rascals’.