Taking the kids to the playground is a time honoured dad tradition, especially as they get a bit older (the kids I mean – although there are a smattering of granddad types around who may of course be the dads these days.)
My boys and I are true connoisseurs of playgrounds and we know every square inch of these padded activity zones in about a mile and a half radius of home, and each favoured spot has its notable landmark – the long slide, the curly slide, the water spout, the springy see-saw...
Now, when we go we look the part. Proper trainers and socks, long shorts or tracksuit bottoms and no silly T-shirts. I'm amazed at the parents that let their kids loose on complicated activity equipment with flip-flops, while the dad I saw the other day wearing yellow crocs – well let's be charitable and say his wife picked them out.
But try as I might, it's my turn to look silly just trying to control the twins. For some reason they always attempt to do something on any activity that the equipment wasn't designed for.
Why do they have go up and not down any given slide?
Why go up the outside rather than the nice safe inside of a climbing frame?
Why do they try and balance on the middle of a spinning roundabout?
We even go to adventure playgrounds now where the stakes are as high as the rocket slide and as long as the zip wire.
I never had this trouble with my oldest boy – he ran screaming from any slide longer than a few feet and steeper than 30 degrees. Now I'm in constant motion waiting to catch a falling twin or squeeze into a tunnel to pull one out going the wrong way.
All around, the other dads are sitting quietly with their mobile phones as their kids obey the rules (well, almost all – there's always one small boy who gangs up with mine and makes things three times worse, but his dad is egging him on).
If the mission is to tire them out, it works – but I'm too tired to do much with the peace when we get home.