Happily I was right. It was just us and a family. A boy who looked seven-ish and pretty much played alone. The mom with a small infant in carrier sitting in the shade and the dad following around his 18-21 month old.
Now Animal just started really walking about 2 weeks ago, and he was so excited to be able to get around unassisted that we could have likely spent the rest of the afternoon there till he was ready for dinner. And for the first time ever I could imagine myself having a great time. I love playing on playgrounds. So I happily chased him around and followed as he claimed oh so carefully up and down the structure.
After getting the bird's eye view Animal decided he needed to get back on the ground so he could explore
I was worried Animal might try to retaliate and was ready to intervene when he surprised me and just smiled and then bent down to get another leaf. Well the whole scenario replayed itself 2 more times each time Animal looking less pleased. And so he forgot about the leaves and acorns and headed for a toy.
I was slightly annoyed that the dad didn't just tell his kid to stop and let the "baby" pick up the leaf. But what evs, I was thrilled that my guy wasn't acting as I had feared.
He played happily here and there while I followed closely. Finally walking under a structure that had some benches behind a steering wheel and some makeshift headlights. I was thinking about putting Animal on my lap and letting him play with the steering wheel when Bubba came barreling through jumping up on benches and yelling "see I can get up, get up here baby". Animal just looked at him and slammed both hands down on the bench a few times and grunted. The dad said "It's frustrating isn't it, when you can't do what you want." Then this scenario replayed itself all over again. But I thought this was ok, and didn't jump in, I was crouched down 2 feet away. Animal moved away from the benches and walked over to the "headlights" happy to feel their roundness, he was smiling at me
This was the first (but I know not the last time) he was hurt by another child. I was bummed by it happening of course, but thrilled that he wasn't the aggressor. The dad made his kid apologize BTW.
Animal shook it off and kept right on playing. We went down the slide a couple of times and headed home. I feel pretty optimistic about future trips to the neighborhood playground, as my son is not the playground bully I feared he might be. YAY!
When we got home and I told the hubby about our misadventure. He told me next time, tell the kid "I'm sorry he's too little to play with you" and move Animal away. I'm not sure, I think it went well, what do you think?