Parklife… Toddler-style.

The way to Briar’s heart is to take her sliding. She knows where every slide in town is, and when we’re driving around she’ll give you a running commentary on any slides we are passing. My mum (Briar’s Mema) recalls a fantastic, fun-filled day the two shared last year. As they were driving up our driveway, Mema asked Briar if she’d had a good day. Briar’s response was “No schlides.” It seems the worth of any day can be judged by how many slides are slid down.

We are incredibly lucky in Queanbeyan to have an amazing array of parks to visit. Being in such a small town, every park we like is within a 5 minute drive from home or a short bus ride. Briar just loves catching the buses, so catching a bus to the park is her idea of a brilliant outting.

By far the best park in town is the newly renovated play area at Queens Park. It’s shady, well fenced, has a toilet block within the fenced area and water fountains. Multiple benches mean I can sit under the shade of a big tree and feed sleepy Gabe whilst Briar runs, swings, slides and makes friends.

This morning was a tough one. Briar was going a bit stir crazy at home. After a sleepless night with Gabriel, I had a headache so we had a quiet morning playing with Briars doctors kit. She loves wearing the round glasses and every time Gabe whimpers her response is “Baby Gabe sore tummy. I doctor. I fix.”

However by lunch time, she needed some fresh air. So we packed away the doctors kit and got dressed for an adventure to the park.

As I’m sure it’s apparent to all, Briar is besotted by her Baby Gabe. Lately, when he cries, she’ll run to him and say “It’s okay, Briar’s here. Briar’s here.” She has heard me soothe him by telling him “Mummy is here” but now goes a step further and if she hears me say to Gabriel “Mummy’s here,” she’ll put her hands on her hips and correct me. “No! Briar’s here!”

As I was dressing Gabriel for the park, Briar was climbing up on the side of the change table to talk to Gabe. I repeatedly lifted her down and told her it was dangerous, but in true Briar style, she persisted. Sure enough, she took a tumble and hit her head on the side of the table. My poor Babylady now has a brown bruise above her eye.

So after a rough start, I packed Briar in the pram, tucked Gabriel into the ring sling and we headed down the hill to the bus stop beside the river.

We made it to the park all in one piece, with Gabriel snoozing peacefully. There was a parents group meeting at the park, so there were plenty of potential friends for Briar to play with. She has no hesitation running up to any child she sees and inviting them to play.

Briar is such an active and extremely social child, so I’ve learnt that it’s important that we get out of the house and expel energy every single day. When I was so ill during my pregnancy, I felt immense guilt that Briar spent so much time cooped up in the house.

Thankfully, with Gabriel as chilled out as he is, he’ll happily spend hours in my ring sling which allows me to get Briar out and about. Pushing a swing or chasing a toddler is not too hard when babywearing, although it certainly takes a toll on my back at times.

Where ever we go, Briar makes friends. She’s confident, friendly and resilient. It breaks my mamas heart when she’s rejected by children she’s attempting to engage in play, but she is never phased. Thankfully more often than not, other children take to her sunny nature and she rarely fails to find a playmate wherever we go.

Last year, Warwick and I helped run the Queanbeyan Uniting Church Youth group and Briar brought so much delight to the year 8 girls. Through this experience, Briar has decided teenagers are fantastic friends and she’s quite keen on trying to befriend bigger kids. We obviously supervise her very closely, but she’s charmed many a teenage girl into playing with her. The big gap-toothed smile and pig tails are irresistible.

Within minutes of arriving at the park today, Briar was running around hand in hand with two little blonde girls.

After her new little blonde friends left, Briar befriended another family and I was mortified to look over and see her sharing their lunch. Thankfully they didn’t seem to mind.

After a good hour and a half of running around, I could see Briar looking incredibly tired as she played in the mushroom house. She seemed to be struggling to keep her eyes open, so it was time to pack her into the pram for a long, slow walk to lull her to sleep.

Incredibly, it took an entire hour of walking the streets of Queanbeyan to get Briar off to dreamland. She finally fell asleep and I headed to a coffee shop for a dairy free coffee and short time of peace and quiet. Of course as the laws of parenting go, if one child rests, the other cannot, so it was Gabe’s cue to wake from his slumber and I had a bright eyed little boy to snuggle whilst I sipped my coffee!

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