Book Club: Jennifer’s Pick05/10/2013
A Playground Tradition
Getting Active by Jennifer Cooper
Our family has a number of traditions. There is: the bedtime story, snack after school, Saturday morning waffles, green bean casserole at Thanksgiving, annual summer trip to the beach. You know, pretty run-of-the-mill fare.
But there is one tradition that trumps all others: whenever we visit a new town or city, we visit one of its playgrounds.
The origin of this tradition happened quite by accident. Years ago, when my children were small (one just 22 months, the other four years old), we tagged along on a trip to Belgium with my husband who was filming a documentary there.
I had 10 long days by myself to tour the country with the kids as my husband worked. At first, it didn’t seem too bad, but if you’ve ever taken a trip with young kids, you know where this story is headed.
There I was, with two cranky over-tired kids, and me just as cranky and over-tired. And there was no break. By day three, I was at my wit’s end. So I put my son in the stroller and took him and my daughter out to the town’s square. We were hitting the playground.
From that moment on, we made a stop at the playground almost every day. We toured castles, wandered streets in picturesque towns, and ate chocolates. But that playground was our special place. There, my kids met local kids. Even though they didn’t speak the same language, they had the international language of play between them.
That little playground was a lifesaver, and from that day on, a tradition was born.
This spring, for Mother’s Day, my husband and kids surprised me with a trip to Philadelphia. While there, we happened upon a little playground with slides and swings. I sat on a bench and marveled at how much the children had grown. I used to push them on the swings. Now their long legs pumped effortlessly. I used to catch them at the end of the slide. Now they zoomed, feet barely meeting pavement, before racing up the ladder to slide again.
Early this summer, our family took a day trip to a small town on the Chesapeake Bay. During our visit, we hit not one, not two, but three playgrounds. My husband and I couldn't help but join in the fun. We chased our kids across the yard, played in the sand, and watched the sun set over the water while we all swung together—the four of us. It was quite a sight. The kids declared it the best trip ever, and I have to agree.
Passing along a tradition of play is something I don’t take lightly.
One day my children will take a break from the playground. I know this. It’s the bittersweet part of life. But I also know they’ll return, carrying with them, children of their own.
Get to Know Jennifer
Find out what keeps this mommy-on-the-go moving. Jennifer discusses...
Getting Up to Speed05/09/2013
Book Club: Jennifer’s Pick05/09/2013
Play Time Friendships05/09/2013
Parenting in the Age of the Internet03/13/2013
5 Halloween Games for Families12/20/2012
Expressing Our Family's Creativity10/11/2012
Surprise Summer Adventures09/13/2012
A Playground Tradition08/16/2012
Summer Neighborhood Socials07/12/2012
Book Club: Jennifer's Pick06/14/2012
Stay-at-Home Summer Camp06/14/2012