Adventures in Night Sledding

4 years ago

So here in Chicagoland we've recently gotten a couple inches of snow.  I took My Big Guy out after the first round and we played in the backyard for a bit while My Little Guy napped.  It was fun, and he's been asking to go "sleigh" again almost every day since then.  

 We spent our morning riding a train to the North Pole at the Illinois Railway Museum and then getting lunch.  The upside was that everyone had a great time.  The downside was that because the kids both slept for about 45 minutes in the car they were exhausted and over-stimulated and refused to nap when we got home.  

 We were supposed to have our Christmas Card photo reshoot but had to cancel due to general fussiness.  I couldn't even imagine attempting to get My Big Guy to change out of his jammies, and My Little Guy was tired in addition to teething some molars.  It was a disaster.

 My husband had the brilliant idea of taking them outside to let them run off whatever energy they had left and tire them out to get them to bed.  We wanted to try actually sledding with them.

 Problem was that it was after dark.  

 Now, I don't know if you know this about me and my husband, but we are Forest Preserve rebels.  We've been warned and even ticketed on more than one occasion for being in a forest preserve after dark (or in one case, just leaving a car in a forest preserve after dark).  This was all back in our younger, wilder days.  Now that we're grown up (sort of) we try to steer clear of such crazy, dangerous illegal activities.  Especially with our kids.


Plus, here in the CH the cops have nothing to do and would relish the thought of destroying some family's fun playing after dark.  

 We decided to disregard all the "Park closes at dusk!" signs and bundled up and headed over to the park behind our house.  We spent a good hour climbing and sliding before My Little Guy melted down and demanded to go home.  Then My Big Guy and my husband tempted fate by going to the official CH sledding hill that is across the street from the police station and went down it.  

 I guess the CH cops had better things to do (perhaps someone parked in a driveway and blocked the sidewalk, or left their garage door open after dark), because we played and sledded without incident.  We had a great time and both kids crashed and slept til 9:30 this morning.  Mission accomplished.

 When we got home we did some internet-ing to figure out if there is a place we can sled after dark without fear of the cops coming.  There are a couple, but damn things have changed since I was a kid.  

 You can sled at the lighted parks, but only on the approved devices.  No metal sleds, only plastic.  Tubes and toboggans are ok though.  (I'm assuming they allow toboggans since they closed the toboggan run years ago and there are people out there like us who now have these toboggans and nowhere to use them.  Not that I'm still bitter about losing that toboggan run.  Oh wait.  Yes I am.)

 Shit like this makes me crazy.  When we were kids we'd haul our metal saucer sleds to the top of the giant, unlit hill at night and go down all Clark Griswold style.  No one cared.  No one got hurt.  No one got in trouble (in fact, my parents have been encouraging after dark sledding to avoid crowds for as long as I can remember).  We all had a blast.  The fact that it was dark and we were going fast just made it all the more fun.  Now we can't go out after dark without worrying about the cops finding us (or hell, someone calling the cops to report that we're out after dark).  And heaven forbid we bring an unapproved sled.  

 What I find even more upsetting about the whole thing is that I doubt there's someone from the park district there enforcing these rules, but I bet you some parent would be.  "Hey, that's a metal sled!  That's not allowed here!"

 I'm fairly confident that would happen if we showed up with our super fun old school sleds.  Because that's what people are like now.  That's why My Big Guy can't walk 30 feet in front of my husband, on the sidewalk to his grandma's house without people running out of their houses to stop him.  That's why my creep-ass neighbor shows up with a martini in his hand to tell me my kid is playing nicely in his own backyard.  

 They think they're "helping" and they feel better about themselves for it.  But it's fucked up.  Mind your own damn business about what kind of sled my kid is on and where he's using it.  Stop concerning yourself with what my kids are up to and pay attention to your own.  I can guarantee you I will not notice or care if your kid is playing unsupervised in his own yard, or using an unapproved sled, or walking down the sidewalk by himself.  

 All the rules and regulations suck the fun out of stuff.  I should be able to take my kids sledding at a time I feel is appropriate for us, on a sled that I feel is safe for us, in a location that I think is right for us without fear of being ticketed.  

 Sometimes - ok, a lot of the time - I hate everyone.

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