Gavin and I still haven’t found a playgroup to roll with, so we spend a good chunk of our time during the day finding stuff to do outside, away from the house. We’re lucky to have access to an indoor pool right up the street, plus there’s Goose Poop Park within easy wagon distance. But the same thing gets stale after a while, so we have a rotation of parks and playgrounds and the like we visit.
We always meet kids at those places. That isn’t unsusal. What is unusual is that many of those kids will seem to be by themselves, or with an uninterested grandparent or babysitter sitting on a bench nearby. They will see me with Gav and will come up to me and ask if I would push them on the swing, or watch them as they do a cartwheel, or play catch with them, hungry for any sort of adult attention. This isn’t routine playground interaction with strangers – they aggressively ask for it, sometimes boxing Gavin out of their way. The neediness of these kids radiates off of them in almost visible waves as they ask me to do daddy-type of things for them. I assume the adults they’re with aren’t interested in them, or they don’t have a dad at home, or whatever, but I always wonder if parks and playgrounds are just places for parents to dump their children – to get them off their hands for an hour or two – for them to run around and expend energy. Expending your child’s energy isn’t the point of parenthood, but for some it might just be. Lord knows I sometimes need a break from my child (there are some days where I look forward to my afternoon-coffee-and-Facebook-update breaks like a prisoner looks forward to their parole hearings) but this need for adult interaction that I get from these kids hints at something more.
If the situation wasn’t so heartbreaking, I wonder if I shouldn’t open a Rent-A-Dad service where adults pay a fee and I would meet their kids at the park and do dad-like things, giving them dad-like attention, for a fixed period of time. Of course, I have my own kiddo who needs my full attention.