Like any decent parent, I have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the parks in my district.
They’re all shit.
But even the shittest will entertain a couple of children under the age of five whilst you keep an eye out for broken pieces of Bacardi Breezer bottles from The Park’s shady night-time persona of Night Club to the area’s thirteen-year-olds.
We’re at the nearest one. There’s a big climbing-frame-type thing, only it’s made of rope and reaches at least twenty foot in the air.
Favourite Son decides to tackle it. He is three now and can do anything. He thinks.
He starts off quite well.
FD: [Beaming at me] I’m a clever boy.
Me: Yes you are.
He takes another step and misses. He is now hanging upside down, clinging on to some rope with the inside of his knees for dear life. His thoughts are not of his imminent demise.
FD: I’m not a clever boy now though.
Me: Yeah you are.
I right him, and hope that his thoughts will not always involve impressing me over his personal safety.
He cracks on with it. And is doing quite well.
FD: I’m SPIDERMAN!
Fair enough. He’s gotten higher on the bloody thing at the age of three than I would consider attempting at my age, so he can be whomever he wants.
Five-year-old Favourite Daughter is having none of this. I have seen her out the corner of my eye, steely-eyed and jaw set throughout this exchange. She is not one to be outdone; to have the spotlight taken off her. She leaps on the climbing frame.
FD: I’m Batman!
She starts climbing. And then stops for a moment.
FD: Em. Actually. I’m Catwoman!
I am much happier with this.
Favourite Daughter also slips and is soon hanging upside down.
FD: I’m Scaredy Catwoman. Daddy. Help.
Whilst admiring her comedic ability I get her down, at considerable risk to my own safety.
Favourite Son is now twenty foot above me informing the entire district of his secret identity. I hope that a) the Daily Planet or whatever don’t get wind otherwise his anonymous Superhero days are numbered and b) he doesn’t get in trouble because there’s no way I’m going up there to get him. A man could break his neck falling off that thing.
FD: How come he’s so brave but I’m older?
Me: Because he’s a boy sweetheart.
I suddenly see a forty-year cavern of female neuroses open before her.
Me: No. Nononono. Not that boys are intrinsically BRAVER than girls, they’re just a bit, you know, they don’t really think –
I notice another lone Dad laughing at me.
Lone Dad: You’re digging a hole mate.
Fuck off Lone Dad.