Day 5: Park day

Fridays are park days.

Of course, today was not just any Friday. Nana is here, and Girl turns 5 on Sunday. We had big plans. A couple of months ago, when I asked Girl what she wanted to do instead of a party this year (money is tight) she answered “go to a ladies’ spa with you and Nana.” (Or rather, ‘paa.’ Girl still has trouble with consonant clusters.) I had a gift certificate to a really nice local place I’d been keeping for a couple of years for a special occasion, and it doesn’t get much more special than that. So this morning Girl dressed herself up, chose a purse, put her lipstick and good wallet in it, put on her good sandals, and the three of us drove down to the spa. Nana and I got pedicures, Girl got the “Princess Package.” They put a special pink miniature spa seat in the regular spa seat, raised the foot tub up high enough for her little legs, painted her fingernails while her feet soaked, gave her a sugar scrub on her feet and legs, put lotion on her, and then painted her toenails.  She just looked like she was born for such things. Completely at ease and in her element.  After that, we went to the homemade doughnut place and sat outside enjoying the sticky wonderfulness. In the evening we had plans to drive to the downtown shopping center and go shoe shopping at Stride Rite, and then get dinner. Nana has been buying them sandals in April and shoes in October since they have needed shoes. It’s a tradition.

But in between donuts and shoe shopping we went to park day. Why, on such a busy day? Because park day is magical. We wouldn’t miss it, and especially not on a cloudless 72 degree October afternoon. Park day also epitomizes why homeschooling moms start grinding their molars when folks (who mean no harm, I know) say they’d be worried about ‘socialization’ if they homeschooled their kids, or ask us if we’re worried about it. Park day is 3-4 hours every week in a great big public park with enormous trees, huge lawns, picnic shelters, benches, and fantastic playground equipment. Some weeks it’s just two or three families. And it’s fun. But sometimes days like today happen, with more than 15 mothers and their colorful snackbags sitting in a circle on folding chairs and on blankets on the ground, and more than 50 (!) fabulous, wonderful kids of all ages ranging around the park. And when I say ‘range’ I mean range. Sometimes the pack of 7-9 year old boys is so far away, always running and always with sticks, that we can barely tell which tiny figure is which. But there are older siblings about and they are together, and safe. (Also they are armed with sticks.) The freedom is exhilarating for them, for all of them. Another homeschooling mom in attendance wrote this today:

Right now I am at the park, watching:

A 12 yo soccer star playing soccer with a group of preschoolers

A bench with 14/15 yo boys chatting with 1 little sister

A 13 yo boy teaching parquor to a 6 & 10 yo

A large group of 6/7/8/9 yo boys playing, running, laughing with toy swords and guns

A large group of 4/5/6 year old girls being completely adorable

An older brother comforting a younger brother who got hurt

Two 8 yo girls pushing several preschoolers on the swings

A group of middle schoolers walking around, NOT playing video games, with a couple of random younger kids chasing behind

Dozens of kids who have known each other for most of their lives enjoying the sunshine

Toddlers who can run over and get a hug from mom whenever needed, as the moms discuss knitting, and SAT prep, and recipes, and medical exams, and stuff that can’t be mentioned outside of park day

If you are looking for a reason to homeschool, this is it right here.

And what else is there really to say about Fridays?

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