Thursday was PARK DAY! That means that for 3 hours we got to hang at a neighborhood park, moms in one patch of shade, and kids drifting between the others. This was our second week at the local homeschooling group's park day, and already we're falling in love.
It's the absolute antithesis to the Lord of the Flies. The children range from preschoolers up to 14 years old, with an even mix of boys and girls. The synergy of the group mimics the old-school neighborhood pack many of us had in our childhoods, but with none of the abuse of power I recall having in our 'hood.
There's a give and take of leadership with the older children of the group, games are started, swordplay battles occur, and those who don't know "the rules" are gently indoctrinated with straightforward explanations and group modeling of what's acceptable.
The mothers set up camp in the shade with their various chairs and blankets. One knits, groups of two of three chat about traveling, curriculum, or puberty. Occasionally, a mother glances up, but never more. There's peace in our shady retreat.
Families leave for appointments, and another brood arrives in their place. New games begin with the children, new conversations with the mothers.
Shouts go out from the children, mothers briefly look up, and the group of 20 or so children have swooped in from their positions at all edges of the park, forming one big group under the shade of a tree just opposite the play structure. A new game has begun, and all the children come, the littlest sprinting to the circle, not wanting to miss out.
There's no shouting from the parents. There's no parental intervention in the children's play.
"This is so beautiful."
"I love this."
"Isn't this wonderful?"
Those are the statements of the mothers--the mothers who come to the park with temperatures soaring above 100, gather in the shade, and commune while our children get to be...children.
It is beautiful. I do love this. It is wonderful.
And, we'll be back next week, even if it's 110 out there.