My daughter is growing at an incredible rate. Few months back, I felt that it was dangerous to let her play on swings, slides and see-saws. She was little, fragile and minute to play on those playground equipment. Blank looks, silent smiles were the responses I used to get when I used to let her sit on those equipment.

Fast forward, she now climbs up the stairs and calls me (or should I say, screams at the top of her voice) “Daddy! Daddy” pointing at the monkey bars. “Take me there”. She is just 18 months old and little over 3 feet in height and very young for monkey bars. I pick her up and move across to the other end, while I hold her in my arms. She learns very quickly. I instructed her once by touching one of her hands and asking her to hold the other bar. Now, she has a ritual to touch one of her hands with other and then move to the next bar. I, now, slowly gather courage to leave her for a fraction of second and test the strength of her developing arms. While I am engrossed with my angel, switching from one equipment to other, I am oblivious to the fact that we have good number of audience.

One, are the kids, who want to play on Monkey bars, but are only accompanied by their mothers. “I can’t hold you for such long time” I overheard one lady trying to calm down her kid. “Where is Daddy? I want to play with those bars” An unhappy kid exclaimed.  I paused for a second and started to look around me.

There was an old woman trying to keep up with the pace at which her grandson was running around. A woman was pushing the swing her child was on with both her eyes lock on her mobile. One more lady was sitting in a corner, legs crossed, ignorant of happenings around her, browsing something important on her mobile phone. I wondered if she was a parent or someone taking some time off in the play area. Then, suddenly she rose up, yelled at some kid playing, “I am leaving, come back in ten minutes” and left. Few mothers were active. They were playing basket ball with their kids, some were helping them to swim in the swimming pool, some were on see-saw with their kids.

My eyes were searching for some company. The search was futile. If there were a public announcement system, I would have raised a question “Any father out here?”. I guess there were not more than 2 to 3 fathers other than me in the play area, but, they were also immersed in their mobiles.

One lady approached me. My daughter started to wave towards her. She recognized my kid and started a conversation with her. She, then rose up, and asked me “So, you seem to have flexible work hours?” However, it sounded to me as if she was asking me “Don’t you have any work to do?”

I, somehow, managed to say “Yes, bit of”

“Lucky, my husband is very busy. He works ten to twelve hours a day” Again, what I heard was different. “How can you leave your office so early!? I guess you are good for nothing at your work place”

I smiled. She continued “What are you? What you do?”

She could not digest that I have free time to play with kids. I, somehow, fended myself from series of questions she shot at me.

The bottom line is that I was the odd “Man” out there! The women and kids evidently missed the important man of their life.

Take some time guys! Playing with kids is an amazing stress buster!! 🙂