The Tunnel of Youth

I turn 33 next week. For some odd reason, it dawned on me, only today, that I was reaching the end of my ‘early thirties’. Shit. I’ve really enjoyed my early thirties, even more so after today.

Alfie and I went to Yarraville Gardens. We were a bit sick of our regular park, with its basic-but-still-awesome playground and wanted to stretch our legs. I’ve always been funny about the playground at Yarraville Gardens. It’s pretty high, and having a slight fear of enclosed spaces, I was pretty terrified of the tunnel slide.

My bum had only just recovered from ‘slide burn’ (grazing from wearing a dress while going down a hot plastic slide) so I was quite fearful.

Alfie was always hesitant about this slide too, perhaps from me and my fears? But today, it was a different story. The Kid sprinted up the play equipment, ran across the two metre high bridge and demanded that I join him at the top of the slide: ‘Mumma, slide. Now. Please.’

So I climbed up and sat behind him at the top of the tunnel slide. I was shitting myself. Then Alfie disappeared down the slide squealing ‘mummaaa’ all the way down. I followed him down, thinking he might have become stuck half way down or found himself caught on some grotty Hubba Bubba.

I slid down the slippery tunnel so fast that I peed myself a little, out of excitement and fear along with a weakened pelvic floor. It was thrilling.

Alfie met me at the bottom of the slide and we both ran up the play equipment to do it all over again. It was seriously the best fun I had had in ages. I couldn’t get back up to slide down again fast enough.

We were squealing and running and falling and running again. I bumped my head so hard on the top of the slide, I have an egg on my scone. I tripped over the edge of the playground and tore my jeans, scratching my knee. I think I will get a scab. I ran so hard, I couldn’t suck the water out of Alfie’s drink bottle fast enough. I rolled Peppa Pig sunscreen on my face and didn’t rub it in properly, I didn’t have the time. I had to get down that slide for one more turn. I took my shoes off.  I hid next to the slide waiting for Alfie to come down and when he did I shouted ‘boo’ and he almost shat himself. 

Then we laughed and bumped our heads again. I cried a little bit. We ran over to the grassy area and lay on our backs in the shade, puffed, with our legs in the air looking at our toes.

It was awesome.

Another parent rocked up with his kids. His boys came zooming down the tunnel slide and I asked the dad if he had ever been down it before. He hadn’t. So Alfie, the dad’s two boys and I all raced him up to the top of the slide and egged him to go down it. He did. When he appeared at the bottom of the slide his grin was ear-to-ear. He raced up the top to do it all again. The slide was infectious.

In two weeks Alfie will turn two. Perhaps the older he gets the younger I get, kind of like Benjamin Button? All I can say is that being a kid is fun; I almost forgot just how much fun. Can’t wait to hit the slide tomorrow. See you there. Don’t wear a dress.

This post first appeared on Bubba West.

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