finding the perfect park

December 5, 2013 · 1 comment

in Belgium, life with Darwin

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This is new territory for us. Now that Darwin is walking, he’s no longer content to be carted around all day, either in the Ergo carrier or his stroller. Sometimes I just gotta let the guy run around. This isn’t something we had to deal with in Bishkek, since he hardly crawled while we lived there. Now in Ghent, I’m constantly on the lookout for the perfect park.

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The perfect park:
– is easily accessible by stroller or bike
– appears to be open to the public
– has a hard-top play area (no sand)
– doesn’t appear to be primarily used as a dog toilet
– has play equipment fit for younger kids
– is located where it has a slim chance of drying out a bit during the five minutes of sunshine per day (otherwise it’s a muddy mess 24/7)

So far the perfect park has eluded us. When Darwin is bundled up, his toddles become even more wobbly, so walking on wet sand is a bit of a disaster. I mean, it’s a bit funny to watch him try to walk on wet sand, he does a sort of slow-motion fall that’s cute and a bit pitiful at the same time. Then I have to deal with the fact that he’s not only wet, but covered in sand. I’m not a fan.

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Playgrounds with that soft, rubbery, recycled-tire feel are much easier for him to walk on, but so far they’ve been installed with jungle gyms that look like training apparatuses for the Hunger Games. Twisted metal bars, strung with ropes, everything is textured and meant to be climbed on, anything that moves is meant to propel you in a dizzying circle. Farrell and I could hardly master them; Darwin simply runs around.

I noticed that during the week, when I’m out running errands with Darwin, I hardly see any other kids. I only see teeny, tiny, wrinkly newborns. I finally realized that all of the older babies and toddlers are in daycare. The only babies out are the fresh ones whose moms are still on maternity leave (it exists here! Europe, omg!). Darwin is the odd kid out, who has nothing to do all day but deal with me hovering over him at the playground to make sure that he doesn’t trip and fall into a pile of dog poop (again). Getting Darwin into daycare, which I imagine as some magical wonderland of indoor space to run around and socialize with other toddlers, requires an exhaustive amount of bureaucratic hurdles, from what I can tell.

Registering as a resident of Ghent, and therefore gaining the ability to send Darwin to daycare, might be more difficult than anything I had to do as a resident of Bishkek (probably because Bishkek didn’t have any great social benefits that I was after, and I could shake off my lack of necessary paperwork by explaining that I was a dumb foreigner). Until then, we’ll continue our search for the perfect park.

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