I took one of my two three-year old grandsons to the park the other day. I can walk there from my house, as can he, but I didn’t think he could carry me home if I pooped-out from all the swinging and sliding. I drove us there.
It’s not a very big park. There’s a grassy area for people to walk their dogs or toss a ball, and there’s a sandy area encompassing both an industrial-sized swing set and a slide. And as you may know, slides nowadays are structures consisting of steps and ladders of various sorts that kids ascend to a platform at the top.
The platform atop this particular slide isn’t as large as several others that this three-year old grandson frequents, but it is large enough to accommodate two side-by-side taller slides, and then a couple of steps down, two shorter side-by-side slides. He wasn’t interested in the shorter two slides but climbed immediately to one of the taller slides.
He didn’t go down, though. He just sat there, which is how he entertains himself so often. He waits to see what Granddad’s going to do in response to his just sitting there saying and doing nothing. My desperation thrills him to no end.
I urged him to slide down. He didn’t move. “Come on, you can do it!” He didn’t say anything. Thinking that he was intimidated by the height of the slide – I don’t know what a three-year old can do or not do – I climbed up and attempted to sit down at the top of the slide next to his, which required some doing. Slides nowadays are not necessarily open at the top. Oftentimes, you have to squeeze through an opening in a metal partition to begin your slide down.
Back when I was a kid, slides were simply slides. Kids climbed the ladder, stood at the top – “Look at me! I’m king of the mountain!” – and if they were older and capable of doing so, even ran down the slide at times. Nowadays, you can’t do that because of the metal partition that is part of the structure. Little kids can easily get through the opening, but larger granddads have a harder time.
I plopped down on the platform, stuck my feet through the slide opening, leaned backward, twisted my head to the side, and pulled myself through the opening so I’d be sitting next to my grandson. What I didn’t realize was that I had on my “slickery” pants. Before I could right myself to a sitting position, surprise, surprise! I was on my way down the slide on my back!
And did I mention that the slide didn’t go straight down? It curved and leveled off at the bottom for a length until it ended only a foot or so from the ground. No way could a granddad zipping down the slide on his back possibly bend his knees to stop.
Thank goodness no one else was around to see me flying above the sand at a speed greater than the posted speed limit on nearby streets. Had an aspiring film maker taken a video with his/her camera, I would have set the record for hits on U-Tube.
I can’t believe how far I traveled! He flies through the air with the greatest of glide, the gallant grandad who just came off the slide. I felt as if I were riding in one of those anti-gravity landspeeders from a Star Wars movie, only I was on my own. I didn’t stop until my feet jammed into the concrete curbing that separated the sandy part of the park from the grassy part. And then I landed with a thud on my back.
As I lay there trying to figure out if I’d broken anything, my grandson shouted from atop the slide, “That was fun, Granddaddy Dewey! Let’s do it again!” Let’s? Let’s! Then he slid down, jumped off the slide, and tackled me as I was getting up because I was so much fun to be around.
I told him that I was through sliding for the day, but he should continue.
And he did, but he refused to take the steps or a ladder back to the top, preferring to try to climb up the slide itself to the platform. And he did a good job until the slide became very steep toward the top. Then he wanted me to reach up and push him to where he could reach the platform, which I did so many times – “Let’s do it again, Granddaddy Dewey!” – that my shoulders refused to move in that direction any more.
But I had an idea. I climbed to the top of the ladder, lay down on the platform and extended my arm through the opening and down the slide. If he could climb high enough to grab my hand, I’d pull him up.
He climbed high enough that he could just barely reach my hand. I grabbed it and pulled him up almost to the top, but then said, “Oh my gosh! My hand’s slipping! I can’t hold you any longer!” And with that, I let him slide down on his stomach as he looked up at me with a look of either terror or horror, I couldn’t tell which, on his face.
He was okay when he hit the ground feet first, and even though I thought it was time to move on to something else or go home, he smiled, clapped his hands and uttered those dreaded words, “That was fun, Granddaddy Dewey! Let’s do it again!” And so for the next eight hours, it seemed, I uttered the words, “Is he going to make it to the top this time? I think so…But no, I can’t hold on!” And so time after time he gleefully went down the slide on his stomach.
I attribute this memorable day at the park to my “slickery pants”, which I didn’t know I had on. After all, it had been more than sixty years since slickery pants were an important part of my life. I always tried to wear a pair if I knew that my elementary school class was going to have recess on the playground. All us boys did. The teacher called them our “shiney hiney” pants.
But back in those days our slide went straight down at such an angle that a kid could easily bend his knees and come to a stop at the bottom. No way could we have glided across the playground as though we had hitched a ride on a magic carpet.