One of the nice things about free-range parenting is leaving your child to figure out stuff on the playground for themselves, which if you’re not in the mood to pretend you’re a fierce playground warrior frees you up to do a whole lot of nothing. Maggie has shown excellent mastery of the monkey bar bridge and so too has she conquered the metal chain cargo nets; thus I am free to sit and read my book. Sometimes I shout encouraging things from my bench like “What’s under that bridge? Pretend it’s a river!” which launches her into a recitation of the River Platte crossing from her “Apples to Oregon” book (“Guard the gwapes!”) and luxuriate in the .002 seconds of summer sunshine that breaks through the clouds. You have to take whatever summer you can around here, and Maggie has what I think is a fabulous trait in a child: she really enjoys amusing herself with the constructions of her own private inner world and though I do love to play with her and prompt games, she certainly doesn’t need (or even always seem to want) me to participate. Thus, my sun and my novel. Happiness abounds.
Today was a different story as I tried in vain to find a comfortable spot on the playground from which to pursue my book and navel-gazing hobby. I’m experiencing an odd occurrence in this pregnancy: my pants are moving backwards. In the beginning I was bloated, swollen, and in yoga pants praying for the speedy arrival of my box of maternity clothes. At the moment I’m wearing normal civilian jeans and a loose t-shirt. As I’ve progressed the baby has moved higher up and the water retention dwindled to nothingness. This is great news for the continued comfort of my favorite jeans but really, really awful on my slowly compressing lungs and it causes me to grumble unpleasantries at my unborn child like “You should know before November: the EXIT is the OTHER way. Now get out of my diaphragm.”
Today I tried as hard as I could, but my poor lungs and I simply could not catch our breath. Finally I grabbed on to some monkey bars and leaned forward a bit, expanding my ribcage and enjoying a few delightful sips of oxygen. But since it requires both hands this is a rotten position from which to enjoy a book and I got cranky because I don’t find the playground nearly as interesting without a little boost from the written word. (Maggie, for her part, had suspended herself from the rope climbing structure and was happily contemplating clouds, so she was of no help.) At least I could feel sunshine on my head and neck.
It’s kind of amazing to me that the child who is so gaily compressing my respiratory system is the same one who settles on the nerves that affect my right leg and hip, making sitting for more than 20 minutes without numbness impossible. Though I feel small for six months along, I can only conclude that this baby is enormous and already defying physics. I can’t wait to see what happens during the .002 seconds of sunshine next summer when my older monkey-child and younger mad scientist start putting their heads together.