Playgrounds - they're FREE!
Summer is a time when teens and tweens haven't grown "too cool" to continue casting glances out the window or while out and about on foot or bike, noting all of the local playgrounds we might pass, often finding themselves yearning for an unstructured free spirited playtime, even if only for a while.
Some of our children's most satisfying playtimes have been a direct result of taking time on purpose, for a playground social, especially appealing after a great walk or bike ride to them.
True confessions; there was a time when our children knew every playground within a 20 mile radius of our home! True. Well sort of....
Living on a small city lot in a cul de sac, without mature trees to keep us from summer's high temperatures, often we would set out for a picnic at a great park.
Gone are the days families do this, or at least they seemed to be to me a few years back. As a child, my family often took in a day at the park, or beach with park, for no reason at all.
I recall vividly thoughts of my father having his quick power nap in the shade of an old oak tree, or my mother reading a book on the family blanket while keeping an eye on her brood. We were free to play, or swim int he lake, or feed the ducks, or watch that baseball game in session, all while the entire family also play or rest nearby.
I have always had the personal philosophy that picnics should be an event held often in the life of a young child.
To that end, our children would amuse us often calling from the back seats, not usually from little ones mind you, rather the older ones blurting out things like;
"Hey mom, that playground looks great even for older kids. I'm not too tall for some of those things. Can we stop for a while to play?"
Yes, that would be me stopping to appease happy-hearted children who corralled anyone within their midst to make teams and get going with a fabulous game of "grounders" on the playground apparatus, or they might be so bold as to walk right up to another child, introduce themselves and say;
"Want to play?"
One of our daughters used to make "a new friend" within seconds, every time we stopped somewhere, leaving the rest of us marveling at how easily she could converse and simply enjoy the social chatting time with another.
Nine times out of ten, all of our picnic events, or playground/park times were wonderful. There were the odd few where we felt compelled to walk elsewhere, though not too many I can remember myself.
Usually an accompanying toddler or baby siblings would magnate the one taking turns playing with them on the playground with even more "new friends", and I never worried about one of our children being left out or forgotten in such social situations. There was always something going on with either themselves banding together if only they were the only children playing, or with a group of others included.
I'm not sure how many times we played so much longer than anticipated, not wanting to depart at all, leaving me in search for last minute luncheon ideas, just so the children could return and play some more.
Always in summer my vehicle would be equipped with an umbrella for the sun, a tablecloth for a picnic table, folding chairs, baby stroller, water jugs and cups, hats and sunscreen, and assorted other helpful items, those types of things were always staples in my vehicle.
When able, "Subway" restaurant became a favorite, especially when I felt a park yearning come to call, we either had a picnic to go with us from home, or made a quick stop at Subway to appease the hunger pangs while resting under a shady tree or sitting at a park picnic table.
Oh, the photos I have snapped through the years and those I continue to snap still today!
I once thought I should just go ahead and crate a "park scrapbook" , detailing and naming all those we frequented and/or all of those our children knew exactly where they were located from area to area, city to city and town to town.
One either desires a great picnic morning or afternoon near one, around one or a drive toward one upon occasion, returning home refreshed, knowing all of the children will be sleeping well later on.
There are just days when one is a homeschooling family when the temperature hits a hundred degrees and the shade of a huge oak tree warrants a walk or drive for an afternoon outing.
And it's free for all to enjoy, anytime, in an city.
Marital engagement gifts from my husband and myself have been things like a picnic basket filled with goodies, just so the new couple might consider forming traditions for taking time out for such a simple pleasure. A red and white blanket might just be a great addition to these.