One thing I never quite realised before becoming a mum was just how much of my life would be spent at parks! I knew that most kids loved playgrounds but I didn’t appreciate just how much time they could actually spend in them. As any mother of pre-schoolers will know, you spend a large proportion of your time at playgrounds. There is rarely a day that I do not go to a park and there are some days that I go twice.
Like it or loathe it, the park is where parents spend a huge amount of time. Park etiquette is a funny thing. I often find it fascinating to observe the way in which mothers interact (and kids for that matter) in the playground. It can be an interesting social experiment. More about this in another post….
Some days I am not in a good “park mood” and I really don’t feel like talking to other mums. Other times, I long to see another mum to enjoy some adult company and help pass the time. It’s a lot more enjoyable to repeatedly push a swing if you can interact with someone who will say more than “higher”, “more” and “look at me”! And I’ve become very adept at reading the body language of other mums too and I can tell almost instantly if the other mum is ‘in the mood’ for a chat, or she hasn’t the slightest interest in conversation, or if the poor woman is with a newborn baby and looks like she hasn’t slept in a week.
Often it’s a case of same park, same faces, same conversations. It’s pretty easy to strike up conversation with another mum and cover topics such as the developmental stages of your children, kinder enrolment, school readiness etc. You get the feeling you’ve had this conversation before and most likely you have!
So, given the opportunity I love it when I see a dad in the park. I find that the conversation you have with a dad is different to the one you will have with a mum. They bring something different to the playground. In a similar way, grandparents bring something different too and I sometimes feel that they can be forgotten amongst a big group of similar-aged mums.
Today I had the most fascinating conversation with a Bosnian grandmother. She was minding her three grandchildren for the day and we struck up a really great conversation. Through a very heavy Bosnian accent she told me all about migrating to Australia after the Bosnian war. She was shocked when I told her that I had been to Bosnia. “But why?” she asked me. “Are your parents European?” I explained to her that my husband and I had taken a trip to Eastern Europe the year before our first child was born. As it happened we had visited the town of Mostar, the very place where she had grown up. She was so excited to hear me talk about her homeland with such enthusiasm. She asked me how I enjoyed the local food there, in particular Ćevapi, the Balkan kebab speciality. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was vegetarian.
It was such a lovely conversation as it was so far removed from the usual conversations I have in the park. I felt uplifted afterwards. It’s been a long time since I travelled and through this incidental interaction I felt like I had revisited Bosnia and for a few minutes I was almost travelling again…