Self-tutoring about children and being a parent: the tutor recalls….
Before the kids entered middle school I took them outside for a couple of hours, rain or shine, each day they didn’t have school. I did so to give them exercise and because I didn’t want them growing up “in front of the TV.”
Sometimes, we would go to Nanaimo on a weekend. Some of those days, my wife would look for clothes while I took the kids outside, just around wherever we happened to be. Since typically this would be an area outside a mall, it wasn’t always a zone meant for kids. We could find ourselves in some surprising places.
One cold, dry Saturday afternoon in March 2009, I left the mall with the kids, then 4 and 6. We carefully walked along the outside of the mall, then crossed the parking lot. Eventually we reached a grassy area around some other buildings.
At the opposite edge of the grassy area we noticed, perhaps surprisingly, a playground. We followed an unnecessary path to it.
The playground was for very young kids; its highest structure might have been four feet. It had low monkey bars of some sort, I believe, and perhaps some vehicle replica, like a train wherein kids could climb amongst its cars. For some reason I recall the train sitting on a track but I can’t imagine it moved. There was also a slide, and possibly a see-saw.
The playground showed signs of age, but was free of litter. On two sides it bordered the field’s edge, where weeds and tall grass took over, perhaps 15 feet from the play elements.
I was struck by how difficult it was to imagine anyone else playing there. It was much easier to imagine no child ever went there, than that they often did. On this Saturday, the wind blew coldly, and the sky was white, rather than sunny. Yet, it was a dry Saturday afternoon; one might have imagined someone at the playground. We never saw anyone near it.
However infrequently others visited the spot, this was our time; I motivated the kids to try each of the play elements, and we spent time there connecting with the playground. How much fun the kids had I don’t know, but I wanted to make sure we all got exercise and made the most of our time there. At any playground far from home, I always wondered when next, if ever, we might return.
The cold wind eventually got the better of us. Past the tall grass at the edge, we noticed a gravel track and followed it away. I took a long look back at that playground, once again deserted.
When we returned to Nanaimo in months and years following, we often drove by that playground. It wasn’t prominent, but you could see it if you knew where to look. I wondered if the kids remembered that cold Saturday there, or if the event survived only in my mind.
Then, one Saturday, as we drove along the highway in Nanaimo, my younger son (in middle school by then) observed…”Hey, that playground…it’s gone.”
I looked over; indeed, he was right. So observing, he’d confirmed that he, too recalled our time there.
“Did you like that time we went there?” I asked.
“Yes…it was fun.”
I’m glad we went there:)
Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane,
Campbell River, BC.