I met Sarah a few months ago through the wonderful world of blogging and she instantly became a friend. This woman is sweet and thoughtful and she cracks me up like no other. Visit her on her blog, The Five Little Monkeys.
In the late nineties I became certified as a doula. For a time I was a volunteer and offered myservices to teen parents and couples who could not afford to pay for the helpthey needed. Little did I know thatthese experiences were actually training me for something more.
Just look at the photo above of my sweet baby boy. I call this particular playground The GeorgiaO’Keefe. He’s making his way through thetunnel and then, once through the other side, will be blinded by the sunoverhead and whoosh down the slide ina moment of sheer exhilaration and terror. The goal is that someone is there on the other side to catch him, but Ihave to be calm and prepared to pick the wood chips out of his forehead, use mywater bottle to rinse the sand out of his eyes and tell him what a fabulous jobhe did if he enters the chute before hands are at the ready.
Hello, my name is Sarah and I’m a playground doula.
Kids have been playing since the beginning of time, whetheron fancy schmancy tunnels reminiscent of a birth canal or with a stick and ahoop. I believe that children need toexperience coming into their own world of learning balance, taking risks and gettingsutures if need be. I don’t want my kidsto get hurt for the sheer purpose of learning a lesson, but if they do I willwhip out my insurance and local ER frequent attendee punch card. We’re getting close to having our own privateroom there, kind of ashamed but also pretty excited. I see they’re hiring a new PhysiciansAssistant for the Fast Track area and I feel like that person should at leasttake me out for coffee and thank for me for my brood as it offers jobsecurity. See below, this should haveearned us at least three punches on my frequency card as it entailed a traumaroom and an ambulance. Until thisaccident, only one of my kids has needed stitches so this really upped ourgame.
Terrifying SkiAccident: Girl vs. Tree at 30 mph
So, in my role as playground doula I’m there to just be inthe background, at their sides if they ask for me and armed with snacks,beverages and Band-Aids. Below, myyoungest is preparing to embark on his adventure. Not yet fully engaged, but on the brink ofentering into the journey. I’m there toquietly take pictures and capture this moment but quickly ditch the iPhone intothe wood chips should he need me to leap to his side. All around him people are experiencing life,but in this singular moment he is having a life changing experience. His little brain is growing, his gross motorskills being pushed to their limits.
I have to be able to bask in the moment while still havingthoughts on the forefront of your Mama Doula brain like:
-I could rip my shirt off and use it as a tourniquet
-The hem of my maxi dress will work to stem the bleeding andas a swaddling device
-If I see that kid bite his sibling one more time, move toanother location as human bites are dangerous*
-Use gentle techniques to steer child away from
publicanimal toilet sandbox
-Is my child crying because he’s tired and hungry, or becausethere are red ants in this diaper biting his tushie?
If the answer is yes, dumping an expensive iced coffee outand using the ice to cool his bits works well. The lesson learned here? When allelse fails, strip them down. Let theothers who have their faces buried in their electronic devices have a reason tolook up, mouths gaping. (You’re welcome;he is a tiny Adonis isn’t he!)
This post has taken a more sentimental tone than Ioriginally envisioned. I sent an emailto Meghan at work with some ideas and she had to fake an asthma attack at workso people wouldn’t think she was goofing off. I then decided that having either of our blogs searchable by the termVagina Playground might not be cool. Oh,oopsies, there it is! I’m from Michigan, I can’t help it. I’m not taking sidesor making a political statement, just sharing that women in the Mid-Westsometimes get a little over zealous when it comes to using proper anatomical verbiageand I’d hate to associate with thatcult. Moving right along…
I love to read the book Owl Babies tomy kids. The way the siblings comforteach other is so endearing, and having a large family I’ve seen this time andtime again. Once I’ve come to side ofthe injured, sick, sad or otherwise troubled child they will frequently callout and cling to another sibling. Theyjust need to know that I’m there. Evenbetter is when a younger child expresses their love or appreciation for anolder sibling. That’s when I know thatI’m passing on the Mama Doula wisdom.
Sometimes the slides are hot, the heights are scary. I’ll be there to coax the little whiteknuckled, hyperventilating beings, wipe the tears and hold their hands. There may be sand on your sweaty littlethighs, and you may get a little slide rash on your way down, but in the endyou’ll feel that rush of adrenaline that makes you want to do it all overagain. If you’re not filled with theurge to try it all over again, and soon, I hope they leave knowing they haveconquered something awesome and it has very little to do with me, but rathertheir own plastic playground prowess.
Thank you, PhaseThree of Life, for theopportunity to guest post while you are getting a
sunburn little restand relaxation. I’m new to this whole blogging world, and Meghan was my veryfirst to comment on my blog. Aside frommy role as Playground Doula, I write about our life as anunderemployed/unemployed/student family of seven at The Five Little Monkeys. Please come follow me, I can use allthe friends I can get on this journey! Ihave five kids that span from the highchair to high school, and two Pibbles . My husband and I met on the number 9 bus, at 9 o’clock in the morning onJuly 9, 1994. No, we aren’t having 9 kids.