Monday, July 26, 2010

Lord of the Gnats

I made a slight error in judgment today. This weekend, after perusing the farmer’s market on Columbus, Andrew, Lucia, and I went to the terrace park of the Natural History Museum—I’d read about it, and I wanted to scope it out to see if it was someplace I could take Lucia this week. (i.e., I needed to know if there was an elevator option to avoid the large stairway.) The terrace has greenspace, a small café, and a large paved area with streams of water jutting out, to the delight of many small children. The water pools at the bottom of the slightly sloped space, creating a little stream that I thought seemed perfectly Lucia-sized. And there was an elevator.

So today I dressed Lucia in a little bathing suit, and we headed to the terrace. I imagined she’d have a wonderful time scooting around in the water; during bathtime now, she squirms onto her stomach and splash/crawls from one end of the tub to the other, oblivious to water in her face. I sat her down by the spot where the water was pooling; we were in shade; her little toes were getting wet. But we hadn’t been sitting for even a minute before two little girls bounded up—sisters, probably about five and three years old. “Can we play with you?” the older girl asked boldly.

A ridiculous cold dread filled my stomach. I felt like the shy child I once was, just wanting to be left alone. But I nodded, and the little girls sat down. “Can I touch her?” one asked. “Only her foot,” I said. They tickled her foot. Then one began pouring cups of water over her foot and calf. When the sisters began splashing each other, I picked Lucia up and moved to another spot. They followed. They continued pouring water over her feet. Lucia wasn’t sure what to make of all this—they were a little too close, I think; there was too much activity. I felt a bit ambushed myself. Soon she held her arms out to me, I picked her up, and that was the end of our terrace adventure.

I was surprised that my little outing hadn’t gone as planned, but I have to remind myself that she’s only nine months old—perhaps water-play terraces are the province of older children. And perhaps she’s going to be a child who’s happiest with just one other child around—when she’s met other babies one-on-one, she’s been fine. Or perhaps on another day, a day following a night when she didn’t wake up at three and toss and turn until five like a little insomniac, she would have splashed like the little fish she seems to be.


PletcherFamily said...

I would have reacted the same way. Some kids don't get the hint that the baby is too small and may not like their games. This is not Lucia not playing right! And where were the parents of these girls? I stay on top of my kids. If a mom says okay that Arlington can say hi to the baby, I remind her not to touch her, not to get too close, and to speak slowly. Then after a little look, we move away. I would never allow my kids to pour water on another child - no matter the age - especially kids I don't know!
But I am just that kind of parent. I have had many aggressive kids approach my kids and I have no problem moving away or saying something if they are not "meeting my approval" for appropriate play.
You did the right thing mommy!

PletcherFamily said...

I meant to say speak "softly" not slowly. :)

Sara said...

That was my thought too--where were the girls' parents? We run into these situations more frequently than I would like. My kids are not aggressive, other kids are--and usually their parents/caregivers are nowhere in sight.

Julie Magee said...

hopefully this won't denture you from trying the terrace again.