Now that my squad is mobile — crawling little speed demons on the cusp of walking — a whole new world of play opportunity has opened up.
I used to shy away from play dates because they just used to sit in one space, like bumps on a log. Sigh, the good old days. Now that sitting still is a thing of the past, the twins are making full use of their newfound skills, creating a new set of fears for little old mom.
For example, the kids were playing at the mall’s play area the other day when my heart sank into my stomach. Rory was playing with my shoelaces, and when I looked up to check on Makayla, I couldn’t find her. I started to sweat and just as I was about to go into full panic mode, I saw her little ponytail peaking up from behind a toy Jeep.
She was playing and laughing with a group of older girls.
Who is this big kid?
Where is my baby girl? Clearly in public, I’m old news.
So just as my blood pressure and heart rate were regulating, Rory scooted his way over to where some other children were playing. Everything was fine, until a little boy decided to push Rory off the toy he was holding onto.
That’s when it happened.
I didn’t use my princess voice.
I went full on mama bear, complete with deep, scary villain voice.
Somehow I managed to get from one side of the play area, without nailing another kid, before Rory hit the ground. He was fine; he little boy with the strong arm will probably have nightmares for weeks.
If a kiddo gets knocked down by accident, that’s one thing. Accidents happen and kids are kids, but when one kid intentionally does something to harm another, that’s grounds for the mama and papa bears to come out of play place hibernation.
When my kids are in a social environment, I try not to hover. I do my best to allow them to interact, safely, with other kids and allow them to explore their new surroundings with confidence. For the most part, I try to use these rare moments to relax and watch the best sort of entertainment: my kids, laughing and giggling and enjoying the sheer joy of play.
I know, the concept of relaxing is downright laughable when you’re a parent. I don’t know about you, but I hardly ever relax until well after the “great bedtime rebellion” is over each night, and even then, I’m always on call.
That being said, just because your kid is in a play space, doesn’t mean you can turn your parent light off and lose yourself in a book or get to the next level of your game on your phone.
As much as I try not to hover, I also try not to parent other children, but if your kid is bullying or roughhousing my kid and you are in outer space, my Batman voice will likely haunt your dreams, too.
Vanessa Lynch is a Fort Hood Army spouse, and former metro editor at the Killeen Daily Herald.