On Sunday I took my youngest two kids (Kennith and Madelynn) along with my niece to the park for a fun day. We went out to Morgan Creek (here in Cedar Rapids, outside of town a bit) and brought our lunch, bubbles, and a Frisbee. My plan- play for as long as we can before the day is over.
What a great time. Now, what I noticed- most parents and adults were sitting on the benches and talking with each other as their children played. So, after I set down our picnic goods down on the table, I went to play with the kids. I freely admit, I tend to watch my kids play and relax and watch them play hard and exhaust their little bodies while I flip through a book. But on this trip, I played with them. I had just about as much fun as they did going down the slides, and swinging on the swing set.
After about an hour, we stopped to have lunch and they gobbled up their gourmet sandwiches (err, peanut butter and jelly- thank you very much, lol). Then they went to play some more and I sat and finished my lunch and flipped through an old school cook book.
Then I noticed something very sweet… each child started playing with another child who was on their own. They each made a buddy. I was so proud watching them play with the different kids, and then they all played together… lots of laughter from the playground at the park. It really melted my heart to see all of the kids playing a game together and no one was left out.
I remember when I was younger and I would go to the park with my parents, I would play by myself and well… it kinda sucked, but I didn’t realized that it sucked back then. It just did. I honestly didn’t like going to the playground when I was a child. I didn’t really like playing by myself.
But on Sunday? On Sunday it was fun. They were having so much fun when I looked up that I decided to play tag with them. After about 15 minutes, I had to stop and take a little break, and I noticed something happen. A dad, just one, started to play with them. And his son’s eyes just lit up. It was pretty amazing to watch this happen. As soon as the dad started playing his little five year old son got so excited that his eyes were glazed over with joy- and I think the dad had just about as much, or even more fun than his son. And here is the thing, I don’t think that father will ever know the impact of that ONE event and what it will have on his son’s life. All our kids really want from us? Our time. 100% of our attention.
At the end of our trip, we decided to take a little hike. Mya lead the way, followed by Kennith, Madelynn, and then myself. I picked up the rear (hey, don’t laugh there…. Lol she picked up the rear, hahahaha… kinda like in “Finding Nemo” when the little kid fishy says, “He touched the butt” and you laughed harder than your kids… admit it)… where was I, oh we went for a hike.
As we start on our path, Maddy starts looking for something in the grass and she was so serious about it. I asked her what she was doing, and she said… “Mama, I am looking for a stick.” I said, “well honey, there are sticks everywhere.” And she said, “But I need a stick, a walking one.”
She wanted a stick to use to walk, so we found one and she used it the whole way. On our adventure we picked up sticks, walnuts that were half open that looked like silly noses, a strange small piece of wood, and flowers (dandelions). What seems silly to me (collecting all this stuff) was so fun for them. They laughed and each carried their treasures.
What I carry from my afternoon at Morgan Creek? The memories of the day with the kids… They are my treasures.
So a challenge--- the next time you go to the park, pool, Playstation or anywhere your kids will play and you tend to sit back and watch… stop and play with them. REALLY play. Forget your bills, the dirty laundry, the dinner you have to cook, and floors you have to mop… forget that you have to work the next day and for an hour take time to remember what it is like to be eight. To be eight and have the world to explore one walnut at a time.