Everyone loves the weekends. You’re free from work. You can set your own timeline. There are endless possibilities. And if you have a kid, you get to spend the WHOLE day with them. For Hubbs and me, THAT is what makes the weekend, every weekend. We get 48 straight hours with the Monkey and we love every second of it. And with the weather turning sunny and warm again — I love California weather — our outings just get more fun.
This weekend was the unofficial park-a-palooza. We didn’t intend to spend a good chunk of both days at the park. It just kind of happened.
After visiting family in San Mateo on Saturday, we headed to its Central Park and tooled around the Japanese Tea Garden before heading to the playground. The Monkey was into the koi fish at the garden and was mesmerized by the big kids running and playing at the playground. We watched the small train chug along its loop, the Monkey murmuring “ooooh” as it passed. Maybe next time, we’ll take him for a ride.
We walked to Talbot’s Toyland and literally were sucked into a children’s wonderland for a good two hours. I love how the employees encouraged kids to play with the toys and on the toy structures, with parental supervision. The Monkey wanted to touch each and ever oversized stuffed animal on display. He shouted “yeah!” every time the Hubbs asked if he wanted to hear the pop gun again. He laughed as the wind-up hopping bunnies jittered and fell off a display table. A stuffed King-Kong doll’s roar and “ooh-ooh-ooh” sounds elicited delighted giggles and more ‘yeahs’.
We hit a goldmine with the toy cars. The Monkey was too small for the classic Little Tikes Cozy Coupe: His feet couldn’t even reach the ground when he was sitting on the edge of the seat. But the Step2 Whisper Ride Buggy? He was in love. I liked that it had a seat belt. The Monkey liked the steering wheel. It didn’t matter to him that the horn didn’t work. We were pushing him up and down the aisle for a good 15 minutes. Employees and patrons were laughing and smiling at him as we went by: The Monkey was waving, laughing, and turning the wheel as we passed.
Call him Mr. America. Kid has that wave DOWN.
In the end, the Hubbs and I resisted the urge to buy him the car. We HAVE strollers, where would we use the car? More importantly, where would we store it? Our house is turning into an independent toy store. Except it keeps getting bigger. So in the end, we went small: Small plastic toy car and wiffle ball: $5. No buyers remorse either, which is always nice.
Less than five minutes after leaving the store, the Monkey bonked. He fell asleep in my arms almost instantly.
On Sunday, we stayed closer to home. Since the Monkey started to get antsy around 10 a.m., we decided to walk to the nearby park. Walks always equal instant happiness, but on Sunday we upped the ante: We helped him ride the slides. Big kid slides. I’ve never seen him smile so big.
The three of us “rode” the see-saw. He played with the play structure’s movable tic-tac-toe tiles. Then we put him in the baby swings for the first time. Its amazing: They look so small, but when you put him in one, they’re suddenly huge. You could fit two of him in there, back-to-back. It didn’t matter. We showed him where to hang on and gave him a small push.
Instant smiles. Infectious laughter. He mimicked us saying “whee” in an awed whisper. We played on those swings for a good 10 minutes. He waved “bye-bye” to them when we left.
I always knew I would enjoy this park. When we bought our house two years ago, it was one of the first places we visited. I walked along the shaded paths, imagining what it would be like. When I was pregnant with the Monkey, Hubbs and I would walk there after work and on the weekend, watching other children play and imagining our future little one there with them. When the Monkey was a baby, I’d take him through the park when the heat of the day had passed. I’d tell him about the scenery, and promise to take him to the playground once he was big enough.
I always knew I would like it. But seeing his face on the swings and slide? It makes me want to take him there every day. I want to see that look of joy. I want to hear his laughter peal out and echo against the structures.
Its like being a kid again. But being able to watch him enjoy it at the same time? Its better than I remembered.