At first, the playground looked the same as ever. But once we wandered around a bit, we realized that none of of our friends were there. In their place were a lot of older kids, playing rough.
Adinah went straight to the Seidelbahn. It's like a downhill, snowless ski-lift: a seat attached to a line, attached to a cable which runs down a slight twenty yard slope. The kids climb up on a wooden platform, jump onto the seat, then sail down the length of the cable; at the bottom of the run, they hit a rubber brake, which sends them swinging high in the air, then rebounding back towards their starting point.
For a kid her size, Adinah is a pretty daring Seidelbahner. She can jump up onto the seat by herself, and get set as it accelerates, or ride slalom, swinging from side to side as she hurtles down the line. When she hits the end of the line and pitches way up, nearly upside down on the tiny rubber seat, she's usually laughing.
But yesterday, the Seidelbahn was overrun with rowdy eight year old girls, spoiled brats and--Jesus H.Christ!--a little boy with one of those toy guns that shoots plastic balls! Adinah wasn't particularly unnerved by any of it, but I was at Code Red as soon as this punk started waving his gun in my face. Yoo hoo, Careless Mommy?! Your little Navy Seal over here is gonna take out somebody's eye!
Suddenly, the playground was a DMZ of bad behavior and child hazards. Clueless parents walking into the path of the Seidelbahn, other kids screaming in terror after encounters with the ball gun, pushing, shoving, the works. I thought the eight year old girls on the Seidelbahn platform were the worst. They hardly seemed to notice the smaller kids under their feet, and they were launching themselves onto the ride with these wide, violent swings that nearly knocked over onlookers both adult and juvenile. Very bad, very Dangerous!
I managed to keep my own playground issues in check, but only just barely. This may be so obvious I needn't state it, but as a kid, I was bullied. So as a papa, it's possible that I perhaps get a little sometimes slightly overprotective. Maybe. Probably I'm just, you know, vigilant.
In any case, it was me, not Adinah, who got rattled. When my wife showed up, I practically ran over and told on the entire playground. Adinah just kept doing her thing, elbowing in amongst the older kids, and looking up at them blankly, or with adoration, but never with fear.
The Seidelbahn platform has a capacity of about eight to ten kids, and it was almost full when two sisters in identical pink jackets and stocking caps came clambering up, followed closely by their grandmother, a sixty-something frau with a skier's tan and platinum blond hair. One of the girls was wearing sunglasses, which made her look like a pint-sized Kurt Cobain, and that's probably why she soon tripped, fell off the platform, and started wailing. But Grandma suspected foul play. She hissed at another girl who'd been standing nearby on the platform, then she reached out and whacked this poor child with the back of her hand! The kid fled the scene, looking back over her shoulder in abject panic.
Eventually Anette, Adinah and I fled too, but I was the only one traumatized. The lesson? There's oblivious, and there's overprotective. Then there is the Psycho Ski Granny.