"At the edge of the city is a large seven acre park, always open to the public. You see on every side the evidence of intelligence, energy, thrift, and success." - excerpt on Garden City from History of Cass County Missouri by Allen Glenn, 1917
I took the kids to the park last night because they were about to get on my last nerve with all of their fighting. Marlee hit Mia. Mia hit Marlee back. Mia tattled on Marlee. Marlee kicked Mia, and then took her toy away. Mia tattled on Marlee again. After saying "Stop it with the fighting, girls!" for the millionth time, I decided that the laundry I was attempting to catch up on was going to be a lost cause. The only way to salvage my sanity was to get the kids out of the house.
As we walked the two blocks to the park, I took in the sights, noticing just how much some things had changed over the course of twenty years. Part of the appeal of raising a family in my hometown is that some things never change, but on occasion, things do change and then begins a round of "When I Was a Kid" storytelling. It's fun at this age, because they still like my stories.In the last twenty years, the park has evolved from a dark meadow at the end of a dead end drive to a sun-filled area with brightly colored playgrounds and a paved road cutting through to what was once the main highway.
Watching my kids play at the same park that I went to as a child, on swings and jungle gyms that weren't in place during my childhood, I couldn't help but think about the children that played there long before us. Nameless, faceless children came to mind and I lost myself for awhile. Did they beg to be pushed "really, really high" on the swings? Did they have far to walk when it was time to go back for supper? When they got home, were they scolded for their dirty clothes or hugged with loving arms?
Even more though, I wondered how their versions of "When I Was a Kid" went, and what happened to those boys and girls as they grew into adults. Did they bring their children back to play where they'd once played? Did they take in the changes that time had brought? Most of all, was it hard for their little ones to imagine their mamas and daddies as children, or had they continued to play even as they aged?
I'm trying to remember to stop and play more often; to stop being such an adult all of the time. When I'm gone, I don't want my children to remember how much laundry I did. What I do want them to remember though is that I would stop everything that seemed important at the time, just to do something that made them happy. Just like my mama did for me, and just as I hope they'll someday do for their children - whether it's at home or at a large 7 acre park.