"A city is a large community where people are lonesome together." - H.Prochnow

July 22, 2011

Splashing at the Park
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
You probably already know it's been amazingly hot here the last few days (likely it is where you are, too." Last night, when it was still in the high 90's at 5 pm, I gave up. I picked my son up from daycare, fed hm the leftover strawberries and carrots from his lunch as his dinner, got him a hot fudge sundae, and we went to the park.

We're very lucky, in that we have an amazing park close (but not walking-distance close) to our house. In that park is a huge pond with a spectacular fountain, and feeding that pond is a small stream, where the city has built a wading/splashing pool for kids to play in.
Yesterday, that pool was full of kids, many of whom were the children who live in the low-income neighborhoods which surround the park. For them, the park is their back yard, their playground, their urban oasis.

Some of the children my son played with last night began their lives on the other side of the world, in Somalia or other parts of Africa. He played with kids speaking Somali, French, Spanish, English, and an Eastern-European language. Together, they hurled water at each other, formed teams, splashed, kept an eye that the babies and toddlers in the pool weren't inadvertently getting hit with gouts of water.

On our way back to our car, we encountered an elderly man, sitting on a bench, feeding squirrels. My son is fascinated by the park's very (overly) friendly squirrels and the man immediately noticed this and offered E some bread so he, too, could feed them. It became clear that this gentleman had very little English - his first language was Russian or some other Eastern European language and I could easily picture him sitting on a bench in Moscow or Kiev feeding the squirrels in exactly the same way.

When it was time for us to leave, he patted my son's head and said "He ist a good boy" and we were on our way.

I grew up in an extremely rural area, with the next closest house to ours over a mile away. My husband grew up in suburban military housing, where there was a certain homogeneity to the residents. I normally don't think much about it, but my son's childhood is really completely urban. He draws in chalk on the sidewalk and we can walk to the neighborhood playground, or a restaurant, or the bakery, or the drug store. My son's childhood is so different from ours, and a lot of the time I regret what he doesn't have - the unfettered access to nature, the gang of kids around - but on days like yesterday I am reminded of all the amazingly good things his urban childhood is bringing him.