It was never my intention to traumatize the children in any way. I never imagined their parents would become so frightened. But when the children started crying and the parents started glaring I knew it was time for the boy and I to leave the playground.
When we arrived at the playground on the wealthy side of town that day, the boy and I were impressed with how fancy and bright and clean it was. It was swarming with well dressed, multi-cultural children who said, “Excuse me”. The parents were actually playing and laughing with their children and not their Blackberrys. It was a wonderful, happy and nurturing environment. And despite the fact we had arrived in an American car that hadn’t been washed in 4 months, and despite the fact that part of his breakfast was still stuck to his face and despite the fact that I was wearing faded yoga stretch pants from Walmart, the boy naively deemed us worthy to enter the playground.
The boy ran over to the slide. As he reached the bottom of the slide a pair of stunning blond parents encouraged their little girl, in a foreign language, to ask the nice boy if he would play with her. I encouraged the boy, in American slang language, to get his fingers out of his nose and play with the nice little girl. The girl ran over to the long speaker pipe that was at one corner of the playground. The boy ran to the other side of the playground to the other speaker pipe. He listened as the girl yelled a mixture of jubilant English and some other language into the pipe. The boy paused before he responded to the girl. I was impressed that the boy was thinking about what he would say to the girl before he spoke to her. I shouldn’t have been.
The boy took one long, deep breath. And then he let loose the loudest, longest burp I have ever heard come out of any human being. This impressive burp traveled through the playground pipes and was magnified by the speaker at the other end. Parents turned their heads. Children looked up from the sandbox. The startled girl jumped back from the speaker. Her parents pulled her close. The boy was full of pride. He yelled over to me, “Did you hear my burp mom? Wasn’t that the coolest one I’ve ever done?” And in an instant, all the playground eyes were upon me. I was the burping kid’s mom.
I grabbed the boy and we moved to another part of the playground where the children and their parents were unaware of our offensive burping history. The boy was immediately attracted to something he had never seen. It was a Talking Bob. Talking Bob is a piece of interactive playground equipment that allows its user to make a brief recording of his or her voice. Then a playfully distorted version of what they have said is repeated back a in a funny and creative way. It didn’t take the boy long before Bob was speaking back in a high pitched helium voice or a robot voice. Bob giggled, echoed and made splashing sounds that were broadcast through Bob’s speaker to the playground. The boy yelled “I want candy!” into Bob. Bob responded with a siren and a high pitched voice saying, “Candy! Candy! Candy!” The boy barked like a dog into Bob. Bob giggled and barked back.
And then the boy yelled into Bob, “I’d kill for a cookie right now!” And Bob responded. Bob let loose with a deep growl and yelled out, “Kill! Kill! Kill!” And then Bob repeated it again, “Kill! Kill! Kill!” This growling, killing tirade was magnified by Bob’s speaker throughout the playground. Parents turned their heads. Children looked up from the sandbox. The boy was full of pride. He yelled over to me, “Did you hear that mom? Bob didn’t even talk about the cookie part. He just said, ‘Kill! Kill! Kill!’ That’s funny, huh?”
And again, all the playground eyes were upon me. I was the killing kid’s mom. I stood up from the bench I was sitting on and walked over to the boy. One little girl sniffled in her mother’s arms. Two other mothers whispered to each other behind their hands. I told the boy it was time to go get some lunch. And as the other playground parents and children watched us leave the boy turned to me and said, “Hey mom…I wonder what Bob would have done if I had burped into him.”
Check This Out!
Check out my current favorite blog, The Public Reader Daily Magazine and Web Guide at www.publicreader.blogspot.com . It is chock full of interesting stories, pictures and links. Don't miss the section, The Humorous Side, and it's Weight Loss Plan story from April 1st. You will laugh.
I just finished reading Jhumpa Lahiri's latest book, Unaccustomed Earth. She is one of my favorite authors and Unaccustomed Earth certainly confirmed why. Give it a try.