The Playground

oz park

I made the mistake of thinking the weather was going to cool down this past Monday and told my kid I’d take him to a playground.

I settled on Oz Park in the heart of Lincoln Park, near Halsted and Webster.

Thankfully it’s mostly covered by huge, dense trees, and the temperature difference was noticeable.

This particular park (actual photo above) is made up of sprawling, wooden structures and staircases. It’s a lot like Angel Park in Algonquin, where my parents still live. It has an almost medieval feel.

Shocking to no one, the last time I went to this park, I was probably the darkest pigmented person as an East Asian.

Today there was a large group of black kids, who had come on buses to play.

Even though it was a large crowd, my kid navigated through the madness, sometimes stopping to observe kids on the tire swing or patiently wait his turn to go down the slide.

One boy, around eleven, thought he was alone and asked “child, are looking for your mother?”

My kid gleefully pointed down to me and said “there’s mommy!” I was heartened by this boy’s tenderness.

Not even five minutes later, a boy just above my waist shouted “FUCK YOU, BITCH” to another girl.

Kids fall on a spectrum, ya know?

A bit later, as I coaxed my son into doing “one more thing” before we left, I was rocking him on a seesaw when an angry white lady was yelling at a boy telling him to “get on the other side of the fence” because the signs said this equipment was for kids five and under. She was red faced and hollering, though from what I could tell, he hadn’t done anything wrong besides playing on the “wrong side” of the fence.

She caught my eye and said with an exasperated smile “yeah, just tell them to get on the other side.”

Deadpan, I stared back at her and said “I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal.”

She stopped, mid-smile, stuttered and walked away. She thought I would be on her side and she was DEAD WRONG.

No, white lady, I am not your ally.

I only wish I had stood up for that kid more, to tell her what I really thought of her nonsense.

But I’m still living for the look on her face.

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