Wednesday, May 26, 2010

at the playground again

A sunny holiday afternoon, the playground fresh and green from yesterday’s rain. Adinah and V. and I are playing on the line swing, along with a few other kids, plus a trio of older ones. The oldest of these last are a boy and girl, about thirteen.

The teenagers are taking extra turns, cutting in line, telling the little kids to wait. Adinah notices and tells me. I mumble something like, “Yeah, I see, I got it.’

Then two of the older kids walk away, leaving just the teenage girl. V. is up next. The teenage girl grabs for the swing to go again.

“It’s her turn,” I say in my halting German, and I take the swing.

“Bitte? (Excuse me?)” the teenager says with a sharp grimace.

The rest of our exchange is rapidfire, with lots of overlapping dialogue, and very little listening.

"It's her turn," I say, pointing at my three-year-old daughter.

"This ride isn't for little ones," the teenager snaps.

"This park is for everyone," I say.

"Why are you shouting at me?" she says.

"I'm not shouting at you," I answer. "Can you be a little more polite?"

The teenage girl doesn't hear me because she's saying something I don't hear because I'm already saying, again, "Can you be a little more polite?"

"You're not my father," she spits.

That's when I stop. I turn away and try to help V. with the swing. But I'm useless because I'm shaking.


Kristen said...

I'm devastated. You just shattered my image of Austrian adolescents. I thought they were all just like the Von Trapps. You might as well move back, frankly.

pat said...

This one was so not von Trapp. Actually, I'd probably be more uneasy turning my back on a von Trapp....Wait, you're being sarcastic! This is all just an elaborate ploy to try to get me back to the Lone State!