Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Rain King

Nature is playing a dirty game. Each winter she fights with me, and so far I have emerged victorious, still walking and speaking coherent sentences by the time spring rolls around. Yet, instead of conceding defeat, Nature has been unfairly going after my child: poor, defenseless Kyle (okay - maybe not so defenseless, as he's quite skilled at plucking flowers from the ground and cutting down trees, but he only uses those skills to do good deeds). How could Nature be so cruel?

This past weekend, Kyle was supposed to enjoy what so many suburban kids take for granted: the backyard. Those of us who grew up in the suburbs knew that, if we ever wanted to run around or play baseball or basketball, all we needed to do was walk out the back door and there was a whole yard of grass waiting for us. Of course, we didn't always use that option, as it was easier to drive our parents crazy by doing those things inside. Still, it was always nice to have the ability to easily escape to the backyard, especially when my mother needed someone to wash the dishes. In the city, the door to our home leads from one hallway to another hallway. To get to anything resembling a yard, you must walk down a couple flights of stairs, out another door, down the concrete steps, out the metal gate, past the trash barrels and dog droppings, across the street, and down several blocks without tripping over the crazy man talking to himself. Then, if you're not mugged or hit by a car beforehand, you will arrive at what's called a city park, which, on weekends, is so filled with people that only occasionally you might find a free patch of grass, but often that's covered with litter or rabid squirrels. That's not the case at my parents' place. There, all you have to do is open the door, and suddenly you're outside and able to run wild.

Except for the times when we visit, as we did this weekend. It was my mother's birthday on Saturday, so we thought we'd surprise her with the gift of her grandson. Good thing she was thrilled to see him, and he her, since there was no way they could escape each other. Rain poured the entire time we were there. We knew we were in trouble from the moment we began our drive to Massachusetts Saturday, as speedboats passed us on the highway. By Sunday, the rain had turned my parents' wonderful backyard into a swamp, and the air had turned cold and windy. Kyle did not go outside all all, except for the brief moments between the house and the car, and the car and the mall. Jennifer and my mom took Kyle there, as suburban cultural rules require at least one visit to the mall on rainy days. On Monday, we set sail back to New York, finally escaping the heavy dew once we hit Connecticut. Upon coming home, we wrung ourselves out and then took Kyle for a walk on the pavement outside. The next day, Tuesday, was a beautiful spring day. Nature laughed at us.

Kyle did have plenty to do inside my parents home, and he broke only a few precious heirlooms. His grandparents spoiled him a lot with toys and tickles, keeping him occupied enough to give Jennifer and me a break to do important things, such as sitting back on the couch and staring at the ceiling in silence. It could have been worse, I suppose.

Yet being trapped inside is no fun, and I am starting to wonder whether Nature has indeed put a curse on our son. This is not the first time Kyle has been denied the backyard. The weather prevented us from going out during our last visit there, at Thanksgiving. When we came over for my parents' annual Labor Day cookout, the weather was fine but Kyle was not feeling well and didn't really play much (I'll still blame Nature for that, since her breezes carry viruses around). So, we haven't had a good track record since August, and even then we experienced cold and cloudy weather during Kyle's first beach trip. We have some more visits coming up, and those should tell us for sure whether Kyle truly is the Sunshine Killer.

If that is the case, then I'll have to find some way around it. Perhaps we could buy a home with its own backyard for Kyle. He would then be able to go out and play at any time, which would take some of the sting away from rainy days at my parents' place. That would give us back the edge against Nature, though a down payment on a new home in the New York City area could cost us tens of thousands of dollars. Maybe we'll just get him a better raincoat instead.

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