Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Break 2009

Spring break has coasted to an end with a cool and rainy Saturday. Miserable. A good day, though, for sitting inside and watching the Tigers play in the NCAA tournament.

Luckily we got outside plenty during the week to play in the yard, have picnics, ride bikes and wash cars.

JP learned to ride his bike this week. Finally. And, in the tradition of his already-biking-siblings, he taught himself. He simply hopped on his bike and pedaled down the driveway and he hasn't looked back. Or forward, really. Not even side-to-side so much, which is why he's confined to the driveway on his bike. After a short ride to Richland Elementary's playground he crossed the street at the wrong time and at a slow and dangerous pace, he swerved off the sidewalk and into the street to avoid ... something, and he came to a stop once just before heading off the sidewalk. He's a menace to traffic on our street. He's the worst domestique ever.

I'm lucky, though, that he could teach himself. Lucky that C and S did, too, as none of us have the patience for me to teach them. That's one of those father and son and daughter bonding moments that would have ended horribly, with a lot of stomping and crying. The kids would have been upset, too.

One day I decided to take The Quartet in search of parks. We walk up to Richland almost daily, but I thought we'd get in the car and leave the neighborhood to explore. We all needed some time off the street.

We went to Shelby Farms and, I have to say, I was very disappointed in their playground. This patch of land is a jewel in the city with acres of lake, trees, trails and bison. The playground, however, is metal, rust and, in one spot at least, plywood. There is a "sandbox" which looks like a construction crew was told to dump whatever sand they had left over from a job at that spot. It's become a pile of sand, rocks and leaves.

The kids liked it, of course, they don't know any better. I'm surprised at how much I've come to expect molded plastic and recycled rubber on playgrounds. Maybe it's not so much the safety of it as it is the look of it all. After all, I grew up playing on metal and concrete and I still have all of my limbs. The playgrounds of my kids are just nicer looking environments to play on.

Maybe the Shelby Farmers have a plan for this playground. A plan to raze it and start over. If not, they need to start thinking about it because everything else in that area is picturesque and user-friendly, the one spot specifically for kids, above all, should be.

In contrast, we explored a little more and found a playground I'd seen just off of Humphrey's Blvd. or Wolf River Parkway or whatever that road is over there. It took a while to figure out how to get to it, I had to meander through some neighborhoods before stumbling on the entrance. The playground was large and contemporary with different levels of wood decking, picnic tables, lots of trees and a bridge going over a creek (read: ditch).

I'm not sure I could find it again, though we'll try. I'm not even sure what the park is called, but the kids loved it.

We didn't make it to the beach for spring break, but we did manage to make it outside, which is more than I can say for this cold and wet end-of-break Saturday. Go Tigers!