Thursday, September 22, 2005

o-dee-da, shmo-dee-da

auntie meg used to nanny for a little girl named stella (i know, could you just die? and her downstairs neighbor, a little boy around her age, used to stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell stel-la! up to her...) who lived in brooklyn heights. one of the first times that meg sat for her, there was a little bit of drama because stella kept asking to go to "the o-dee-da", and meg was all "the what now?" finally stella's mom was consulted, who apologized profusely and told meg that, for reasons unbenownst to her or stella's dad, "o-dee-da" was what stella called their neighborhood playground.

mr. baby man and i have recently visited the o-dee-da on a couple of occasions when we've been downtown running errands, and though i love saying "o-dee-da", i don't love the actual o-dee-da.

the first time we went with aiko (who is due to give birth to a little mets fan in november) and there were bad signs from the get-go: first we couldn't find the gate. then when we found the gate (waaaay over to the side!), it appeared to be padlocked. we stood there feeling kinda dumb, looking around for another gate, until some people walking by took pity on us and told us it's actually not locked, that the lock is actually just hanging there (waiting to make the uninitiated feel stupid, i guess) and you can slide the latch open no problem. ah-ha. so we go in and i let the little man loose, and five seconds later his legs look like he's been working the mines (i got the black lung, pop!). seriously, it was dirt like i've never seen before: thick, sticky, and black. it took me till i was talking to sarah later that night to realize what was going on: the o-dee-da is right above the b-q-freakin-e! my childs' legs were covered in highway dirt! exhaust soot! eeccchh! then a few minutes later the (stupid) gate opens and a group of elementary school kids comes barrelling in, apparently having been brought to the o-dee-da for recess, and all of the sudden it's like the antelope stampede scene in the lion king, and wile is mufassa (ooo-oo-oooo-oo! say it again, say it again!). i have to swoop in among the herd of 10-year-olds and scoop him up—he, of course, is totally nonplussed, just sitting there looking up at the galloping beasts like they're only slightly more interesting than the stick in his hand. as i'm getting my heart to drop backdown into my chest, a nanny points us in the direction of the fenced off section of the o-dee-da that is specifically for the wee ones. ah-ha number two. we manage to play there without incident (except, of course, for an even thicker buildup of black muck). but there's just something, i don't know, kind of unfriendly about the place.

so, all in all, not a top ten playground experience. but i chalk most of my dissatisfaction up to being a clueless newcomer, and decide to go back today....

we handle the gate like a pro and go straight for the fenced off area. so far so good. but then the unfriendly vibe comes back... i smile at all the moms and nannies who i pass on the benches and don't get one smile back. wile starts playing with his ball and a little girl comes over and tries to take it away, and instead of responding to my "wile, can you play catch with the little girl?", the mom just tells the little girl not to grab and leads her away. even the pigeons are unfriendly! the little man and i sit on the bench and have lunch and throw them our crumbs and instead of creating a nice tuppence-a-bag scenario, we incite a pigeon riot! the big fat pigeons hog all the crumbs and peck the ever-loving crap out of the skinnier, meeker pigeons. so i decide that's enough communing with nature for the day and we start playing climb the slide, one of wile's favorite games. it's a double slide, and a little girl about his size comes over and stars climbing the other side. i try to make conversation: i ask how old she is, the mom tells me but doesn't ask how old wile is; i say how cute she is, i get no response; i finally try talking to her when i realize i'm getting nothing from her mom ("wow, you're a good climber!"), this still gets nothing. oy. then they go and a bigger girl (5-ish?) comes and climbs the other side of the slide, and we have a nice conversation...until her mom calls her away and yells at her for talking to strangers. dude. i'm another mom on the playground. we're talking about climbing the slide. ease. up. so then this blond little boy (4?) all of the sudden comes barrelling down the slide while mr. baby man is still at the bottom of it. i whisk wile away and say something (very friendly-ly!) like "you should check to make sure no one's at the bottom of the slide before you come down!" but the little heathen just runs away and i'm talking to air. okay, fine, whatever, he's 4. but then he comes back around to the top of the slide, sits down at the top of the side that wile is halfway up (even though the other side is empty!), looks right at me, and starts to slide down! oh no he di'in't! i throw my arm out over the slide and say "can you please go down the other side, we're on this side!" he mumbles something, looks away, and slides down, so that i have to again airlift wile out of danger! then he comes back around to the top of the slide again and sits down on the side that we're on again! i look at him. he looks at me. another kid comes to the top of the other side, so i can't ask him to move over, so i ask him to please wait to slide until wile gets to the top and i can slide him (wile) down since he can't do it by himself because he's a baby. you can guess what happens, right? the little fuckwad slides, almost taking wile out. and because i'm 4 years old too, when he gets to the bottom of the slide i call him a brat. "brat!", i say. and you know what? it felt good.

but i think that's it for me and the o-dee-da. any place that drives me to calling small children names—whether they deserve it or not—should probably be avoided.


mad said...

I too soon rejected the o-dee-da. I was neither a mommy, nor a typical nanny - thus stella and I fit in NO WHERE with the rather obvious-junior-high-like-cliques. The "secret" bk heights good playground is further down hicks street. And despite being equally as near the BQE, is not nearly as grimey and filled with MUCH nicer people. Also the one down in DUMBO shaped like a big ship is pretty damned cool... if you don't mind walking to bumble-f*ck to get there!

casey said...

ok... maybe i'm spoiled by country living, but the black ick would have scared me off right from the get-go. eeek. the unfriendliness is just bizarre. i understand other moms being cautious, but damn. and i'd have called that kid a brat, too. what a little turd.

Anonymous said...

any place that drives one to call a 4 yr-old a f*@kwad is no place to be. how lame. hope you and wile find a cooler place to play slide.