The Turtles Are On
Water feature at big playground burbles with early friend activity
Last July, I wrote about how the City had not yet turned on the sprinklers at our local playground—the tiny and bedraggled Rodney Park on the shores of the BQE, where the water feature (when it works) is four spray towers. By contrast, our Big Local Playground at McCarren Park is a majestic kid wonderland, with a host of stone turtles and frogs—a hallmark of former Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe—that spit a steady stream clean water at neighborhood kids. Usually, the animals come alive at Memorial Day, but the City must be in a good mood, because The Turtles Were On in full force yesterday.
Aside from the sneak preview of summer water season, the big change yesterday was, really, all the kids. Kina has managed to accumulate a robust little cohort of small children, and they are all on a first name basis. Former classmates, birthday party kids, play date kids, kids from the same birthday month in the local parent Slack, friends of friends, children of parent friends—all gathered to celebrate the power of evaporative cooling. Last year, May was a cautious time; the playgrounds were still closed, and kids were tucked away like winter coats. This year, we trust in playgrounds as a space where these kids can let loose. The turtles are on because they know we need them. The turtles and the kids are all making up for lost time.
They—by which I mean “the kids”—are also collecting water balloons. This is a source of real drama on the local parent message board, because water balloons are legitimately a pain in the ass, and also kids will not ever stop whining until they get one. The way we deal with this is never, ever, to get Kina water balloons. Instead, she roams playgrounds in solitude, eyes pinned to the ground in front of her, looking for intact balloons that other parents and children (who are flush with balloons and obviously less bothered by the environmental impact of latex) have dropped. Yesterday, she found at least nine of them, which I dutifully filled only once Kina had agreed to share some of her winnings with the other kids whose parents didn’t believe in balloons. Like an internet book salesman, she hoarded her wealth on the bench beside me, periodically running back to me and rubbing two chubby little balloons on her face in ecstasy. She is a water balloon Scrooge McDuck.
Before we left, she chucked the balloons on the pavement to deny joy to others, and we toddled off, damp and satisfied, to the car. It’s a big difference from where we were last year, when the most common form of outdoor entertainment Kina got was riding her scooter down sidewalk ramps and “making space” for passers-by. It’s nice, for a change, to see space made for her instead. I don’t know what’s going on at Rodney, but I know the turtles are on at McCarren, and there are more than enough filthy little water balloons to go around.