When you have little kids, finding playgrounds is a common pursuit. We have become explorers investigating the urban terrain, always with an eye on the golden prize – a little turf of playground, a swing, a slide. And while we have been blessed to find many, our excitement does not diminish every time we come upon yet another hidden gem.
It matters not that the apparatus is rickety and old and would never pass US safety standards. What’s safety? As long as the kids are happy. And the parents can sit back. (In a place where every woman on the playground is an “Ima”, I seem to be the only one who turns at the sound of this moniker). Or urge their kid to go and claim his turn or stay on the apparatus lest another appears. (In this milieu, I have been privileged to discover Sebastian’s tenacity. Liliana’s toughness was never in question.)
But the bullying isn’t limited to the kids’ terrain. I once observed quietly and incredulously from the side as a bitchy mother castigated a father for letting his toddler play with the preschooler equipment (“he’s bothering my child”). My course of action, I decided, lest anyone say anything to me, will be to play dumb and pretend I don’t speak Hebrew. That and stick with the dads, who appear to be the more gentle of the sexes, when it comes to parenting.
It hasn’t come to that. I reckon no one wants to mess with Liliana’s mom. The girl is a warrior. With a reputation. And bald-faced charm.
When you arrive at a different place, where there are different rules (no rules!), you go with it. We have been learning to go with it. Riding in taxis with the kids, no car seats, no seatbelts, Liliana’s head and torso dangling out the window; Sebastian allowed (encouraged!) to drive the rowboat we rented in the Yarkon river. I don’t need to say no life jackets now do I?
So you go with it. You laugh at it. You grin. And you shrug.
But when you have an opportunity to drive in a car, out of the city, both kids strapped into car seats, like we do every once in a while when we rent a car2go for the day — that is after Lance goes to get the car in the nearby lot, finds a parking space near our building, lugs both car seats down three flights of stairs and installs them in the car while I hold the kids and the bags –your heart lifts and you feel utter bliss. Imagine that Florida. Being in ecstasy over driving in the car with the kids in car seats. A different world alright.