The Playground


Little J is feeling nervous, a little shy, she tries to hide behind her father. Her messy pig tails drop over her shoulders. She peaks around her father. He laughs “You’re a big girl now, you can go say hello.” She replies “You can go for me”. He refuses, “You can do it by yourself.” She decides to bury her shyness; she is curious to meet Big J. She looks down at her white lacy vest and skirt. It’s her favourite outfit, it makes her feel pure. She puts on a look of determination and starts walking cautiously toward the playground. She looks at all the green grass and feels happy. Playgrounds were a treat, there was so much to do. Hopefully she could get Big J to pull the see-saw down for her. She could also ask her to catch her at the bottom of the slide. Slides were scary, she sometimes got stuck at the top. One never knew what would happen at the bottom of a slide. It always felt better if there was someone to catch her at the bottom.

I adjust the scarf around my neck, it feels tangled. It’s my favourite wrinkled, black scarf. I can’t fix it, I can see little J in the distance. I have no idea how to deal with little people so I smile and walk, with a carefree appearance, over to her. I want to try and make both of us feel as at ease as possible. I have spent the large part of the morning playing out the future conversation in my head but still can’t decide how I should act or what would be important to say. If I was one of those overly emotional people, I would want to cry and just hold her, give her as much love and healing that I possibly could. I already know Little J would hate this. She only likes that kind of behaviour when she feels like a failure. She would probably like it if I took her awareness away from herself. I was finally facing her, “Should we have ice-creams and go sit on the swings?”

Little J is excited to be eating ice cream and playing on the swings. She could probably swing higher than Big J. Her father had told her that it was very important for her to talk to Big J; she had to think of something to tell her. She couldn’t think of anything, she just wanted to ask questions. Did she end up moving to England? Does she become an actress or a vet?

We sit on the swings eating ice-cream. I was hating the sugar, fake milk and the thought of how an animal had been tortured so that I could enjoy this ice-cream. Little J was appreciating the treat immensely. Both of us were wishing the ice cream would never end.  I knew there wasn’t much time. I break the silence, “Is there something you maybe want to tell me?”

“You’re bigger than I expected.”

I laughed. “That’s right, you do become less short over the years.”

“Do you end up moving to England?”

“The possibility is still there but no I haven’t lived there yet.”

Little J’s eyes sparkled, “Did you become an actress?”


“A vet then?” she asks.

“No. Does that disappoint you?”

“Not really. Do we go on lots of adventures?”

I sighed, “Not enough of them, I’m always tired, but yes we do.”

“That’s funny, Daddy’s always tired too! Are the adventures like the ones in Famous Five? “

I laughed again, “I wouldn’t say so, no.”

There is a mission that needs to be accomplished and it’s not happening. We are both sitting on our own swing. I turn slightly to Little J and nudge her arm. Our swings are hardly moving. She is absorbed in the ice-cream.

I’m getting impatient, “Isn’t there something you need to tell me that you think I could have forgotten. Something that I need to know in life. I’m always confused if I’m doing the right thing or if I have forgotten who I am. There must be something you can think of to help me?”

Little me turns and looks up at me, she looks forlorn. “I can’t think of anything that I can tell you. You’re bigger than me, you should know more than me.” She forgets the ice-cream and looks sulky.

I feel guilty for pressing Little J. I have also failed at getting the information I wanted. I look up, the sky has turned from blue to grey and it’s covered in low-lying clouds. It looked as if it might rain. I’m tense. I change the subject, “Are you enjoying the ice-cream?” A chunk of ice-cream is about to drip off the cone. Little J uses her fingers to rescue the ice-cream into her mouth. She nods. The corner of her mouth turning up slightly. I can see she doesn’t really want to smile. She replies, “Mommy asks why I can’t always be good. I want to be good, it’s hard. Are you good now?”

I turn to her, “I try but it’s not easy. Remember how you told Mommy you can’t be an angel however hard you try? That’s how it is.”

The swing started to make me dizzy and the overdose on sugar wasn’t helping. I stood up and knelt in front of Little J’s swing. I tell her, “You have to accept that you can’t always be good. You are made of fire and ice, there are two sides to you. You need to embrace them both. You will keep feeling bad for being bad. That will hurt you. If you don’t want to see the bad in yourself, you won’t see it in other people. That can also hurt you.”

Little J gets up and takes my hand, it’s sticky from the ice-cream. “The swing is boring! I want to slide down the big slide. Will you catch me?”

I let her pull me to the slide but I don’t respond. We get to the slide and I climb up the slide behind her. I stand on the 3rd rung from the top of the slide. Little J is very slowly moving from a standing to seated position. I look around, I can see the cars and offices past the playground. The sun behind the scattered clouds create beautiful contrasts in the surrounding area. A slight breeze blows Little J’s hair. She is sitting at the top of the slide bracing herself to let go. She asks softly, “You aren’t going to catch me then? What if I fall?”

I take off my scarf and put it around her shoulders. “Even with no one to catch you, you will still slide.” I lean closer to her. Tears want to form in my eyes. “I love you very much. Both sides of you!”

The small little girl who was once me disappears. I reach my fingers reach toward my neck, my skin feels warm where the scarf was once was…

#DigiWriMo , Day15


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