I am sad, which is sort of annoying.
I mean, what I’m about to write is not a particularly big deal. No one has died. No nations are imperiled. No leader is Tweeting out racist or xenophobic thoughts.
Still, I’m sad.
A few minutes ago we returned from the Playmobil Fun Park, located on Military Trail here in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. It’s an absolutely magical place that we’ve been visiting since my daughter Casey, now 14, was a toddler. In short, the Playmobil Fun Park is an enormous Playmobil store disguised as a castle. And, once inside, one can enter for $1 and play, play, play, play, play with all sorts of toys, set up in elaborate designs on tons of tables. I really can’t do the Fun Park justice, so I’ll simply note, that in the years visiting South Florida, we’ve probably spent, oh, 50 hours there. It’s a Slurpee-level value of awesomeness, and even as my children have aged, we continue to spend time inside the Fun Park.
Today marked our final visit to the Playmobil Fun Park, which is closing at year’s end. And while my heartbreak is real, it’s not coupled with any anger or hostility. I mean, I can’t blame a place that charged a buck per person for shutting its doors. That long seemed inevitable. Instead, what guts me is the passing of youth; the evaporation of time; this symbol of childhood bliss fading away with, well, childhood bliss. I’ve written this before, and I’ll surely write it again: While parenthood is largely filled with joy, nothing prepares you for the dagger that is a son and/or daughter growing up. You watch it, convince yourself it’ll take time … take time … take time. Then (poof!) it’s over. Time’s up.
Casey and I played princess in the Playmobil Fun Park. Emmett (my 11-year old) and I played dragon. Casey and I shifted from table to table, looking for blonde-haired queens to rule the kingdom. Emmett and I shifted from table to table, looking for trucks to run over palm tress (don’t ask). It was imagination on steroids. Kid joy times 1,000. The Playmobil Fun Park was a safe space that brought a family nothing but happiness.
Now, alas, it’s over.