The splash park became one of our favourite weekend hangouts this summer. It's a short drive from home, it's free, and Matthew basks in the glory of dashing through water streams and up and down play structures. And while he's doing his thing I can lie on the grass with Oliver beside me sipping a latte. That's me sipping the latte by the way - not Oliver. Because he's a baby and that would be weird.
It's ideal people-watching territory too, and as everyone knows, watching strangers is therapeutic, not to mention intriguing. Perhaps it's the stories I invent about them. Or observing other people go through the parenting routines I'm so familiar with: the glimmer of panic as their child goes too high on the climbing frame, the chasing to smear sun screen on bits of exposed flesh, the gentle but firm reminders to not push another child out the way to get onto the slide.
And while in attendance at the splash park (and more because I'm nosey), I've come to notice a pattern of splash park mum types.
There's supermodel mum. Her tall, leaner than lean body is so rare and so out of place at the splash park that you can't help but notice her. Often she can be seen strutting and prancing around in a bikini that's a little too risqué for a kids' splash park.
There's stylish mum: Stylish mum has the perfect outfits, always. Her strappy sundress flatters her curves impeccably, and is accessorized with Pelle Moda sandals and Tom Ford sunglasses. Her hair is glossy and fashionably tied back in a loose not. Her toe and fingernails are manicured.
There's helicopter mum: Scary Mommy introduced me to this term in a recent post. Helicopter Mum is the one who's always hovering over her kids - slightly afraid of what might happen left to their own devices. (Erm, wait, that might be me a little bit...)
There's coffee mum: aka me, hiding behind large sunglasses and a venti latte, taking the opportunity to relax while her husband takes over chasing and guarding duties for a few hours.
There's run ragged mum: she's the one with the rosy glow who never, ever stops. She darts from one child to another, putting out fires and tempering tantrums, producing bandaids and emergency snacks at a moment's notice, and has that weary parent look about her. (Yeah okay, that's me a bit too...)
There's mum I'm jealous of: this mother has slightly older kids. Old enough that she can reduce their whines in seconds with a raised eyebrow and a barely-audible warning. Old enough that she can enjoy the atmosphere uninterrupted with a book for at least thirty minutes. Can't wait to be there.
There's expert tanner mum: Expert tanner mum comes to the park prepared for some hardcore tanning. She's equipped with folding chairs, enough snacks and drinks to last half the day, magazines, Blackberry, bikini, sarong and towels. And factor 8. Because anything higher than 8 will hinder her tan.