The gorilla in a clown suit



You know that rush of adrenaline that comes with a first-time-in-your-life experience? Remember the thrill of being in a place you had never been, doing something you had never done before?

It’s different the first time you go to an indoor playground.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You think that I think I’m too good for those places, that I think I’m too mature. Well before you get too judgmental, let me take you to where I was last week.

I was taking care of our two-year-old, and after a couple of hours I was running out of ideas.

In the recesses of my mind I recalled a place my wife had talked about, where children can run and play, and adults can sit in chairs sipping coffee. It sounded like heaven.

The first thing I noticed when we got there was all the equipment. There were giant slides, big puffy ladders and things to play with. There were chairs for adults. They had a coffee bar. It was…PERFECT!

I found my spot, right next to a stack of Sports Illustrated magazines. In this, the unlikeliest of places, I had found nirvana. As I took a step toward the comfy looking sofa, a tiny little voice snapped me out of my revelry.

“Daddy…Daddy…come on!”

I had not planned for that.

She led me to the puffy ladder. She clearly wanted me to follow. I looked back at my sofa, and noticed the other mothers (did I just say, “other”?) watching. Their eyes were challenging me. They were telling me – without saying anything – that the apparatuses were for children. An adult’s place is in the chairs, sipping coffee.

So I climbed up.

It was a slow process. I outweighed every other climber by at least 150 pounds, and the gear was definitely designed for someone smaller than me. To say I stood out would be an understatement. I felt like a gorilla in a clown suit. Children with disapproving glances raced by me as I struggled up the incline.

I ignored them.

We slid down the giant slide. We climbed through giant bubble-things. We tossed balls at the hoops. We played in the fake snow. We spent the afternoon playing with every toy in the place.

I had gotten in touch with the child within, and my daughter was delighted. As we got ready to leave, I looked at the other mothers again. They avoided eye contact.

What a rush.


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  1. Sierra Caddis on

    If you believe all that “new age” parenting “stuff”, they have you believing tears would be welling up in the eyes of those women, but I guess the mothers at that playground haven’t read those books yet!

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