Since I moved away from the center of the city, even in my little anti-social heart a flower of loneliness bloomed.
Ah, sighed the flower. Remember those days of effortless socializing? When you just went to the park and they were there in droves, the women and the kids, kids to play with my kids and the women to talk about recipes/stinky diapers/shaitel sales? I hated those conversations for their vapidness, but I didn't know what I would be missing. Those were the days...I would do anything to participate in a good old; what are you making for supper? exchange...
And my heart said in reply to the flower's plaintive pleas, so get thee to a park back in the old neighborhood! Allow thy children to play with the others! Talketh thou amongst the women about things of importance! And most importantly of all, why is there a flower growing inside of me? I mean, listen, I love a metaphor as well as the next inner organ, but this one makes no sense if you think about it. And why am I speaking in Old English?
So I went to a park.
And the flower died.
K, so first of all, I'm sitting there playing with Turtle and he's telling me all about what he's learned, (i.e., coveted) in the world over these past nearly-three years. (the builder-man makes a noise with the drill! I need the drill! The cleaning truck is coming! I need to drive the cleaning truck! The dog says ruff-ruff! I need the dog!) And he's digging in the sand and filling up his little plastic pail.
I watch the park fill up. My eyes grow misty. I nod hi to people. We say our how are yous. The kids eye each other. All is peaceful.
For five minutes.
A little girl comes over. She examines Turtle's work with the critical eye of a hole-digging master and says, "You need water in the hole." and she pours a bucket of water into the sand. Sand+water=mud. My shoes get splattered.
Turtle watches her for a moment.
"I don't want water," he says after a minute.
"Yes you do," she reassures him.
"And you need some more," she adds. She turns to me. "So we need your water bottle."
"The water bottle is for drinking," I say.
"No," she says. "It's for holes."
Apparently, her little sister doesn't agree with her. Because she takes my water bottle and started to drink it. "No," I say firmly."Mine."
I start to look around for a mother. I find her. In a knot of other mothers. Talking about recipes/stinky diapers/shaitel sales? "Excuse me? Um. Your kids..." I gesture broadly.
"Leah,don't bother the mommy," she says over her shoulder, and then continues talking.
I lock Eyes Of Steel with the kid who has my water bottle. That works like a charm with my kids, but this one is made of sterner stuff. And while my eyes are away from the drama-in-the-sand, the other little girl had helped herself to Turtle's pail. "I'll go get more water," she says.
Turtle's eyes turn big. Confusion fills them. "My pail," he says. It sounded like a question. My pail?
"Yes," I confirm. "Your pail. Um..." the little girl is gone, but she reappears moments later, pail full of water. Splash.
"I don't want water," Turtle tries again.
"He doesn't," I raise my voice in the direction of the Gaggle of Mommys, "WANT WATER."
"Shaitel shaitel," says one mother.
"Diapers, diapers," says another.
"Don't be mean," I say to myself. "They are probably talking about important things, and I'm just jealous because I'm not in the circle."
I get the pail back and give the older girl The Look of Steel. Might as well be The Look of Lukewarm Spaghetti for all its effectiveness. At the same time, I feld off the second Attack For the Water Bottle from her younger sister, which, sneakily enough, was about the transpire from behind.
They both interpret my moves as an invitation to kick sand all over my lap and Turtle's face.
I am a brave woman, but I know when I am outgunned. I put Turtle in his stroller and head for greener pastures. His face is a blur of warring emotions. "You can keep the water bottle," I say to the girls. "To the victor goes the spoils."
Three mother separate themselves from the group and plop down in my spot as I get up, and as I walk towards the grassy area of the park which is blessedly empty, I hear the following;
"What are you making for supper?"
And when the answer is given, she asks for the recipe.