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.