On the other side of town is a park that is right next to a fire station, appropriately named Fire Fighter Park. The kids LOVE it. There is a lot to do there from two big play structures, a half court, plenty of grass space, and stone turtles that spray water. But, the highlight is the namesakes. They keep the bushes trimmed so the kids can peek into the back of the station and see the trucks and the fire fighters often come out to say hi.
|saying hi to a fire fighter in July 2011|
Besides all of the obvious cool stuff, there is something magical about this park for my son. Normally at a park, or at home or school, he has very little interest in playing with other kids his age. I feel so bad for the poor little boy a few doors down that comes over to play Power Rangers or some other imaginative thing and J gives him a blank look and then runs off to play whatever he was playing before he was interrupted. It is one of his IEP goals, and all of us are working on getting him to actually play with other kids his age. I will note he does play with us and loves playing with his big cousins and other big kids, probably because we try to draw him out and play whatever he seems interested in at the moment.
But, as I said before something strange takes over him when we are at Firefighter Park. The last time he went was with a friend, her two young daughters and grandson all about his age. Dad and I were at his parent teacher conference. When we came to get him, I spied him with Charlie trying to put wash the sand off of their feet in the drinking fountain. The two had apparently been thick as thieves the entire time we were gone! And not just parallel play, cooperative play the whole time.
Yesterday we went back to sneak in a little outside time before it started to rain again. There was one young Dad with two girls (5 and 3) on the swings. J and Daddy played on one playset for awhile. The girls started playing in the sand while their Dad took a break on the bench. J wandered over and started digging a hole with them. The older girl started telling him and her little sister what to do and they did it for awhile then the two of them went over to the little play structure and both got on the spring fire truck.
She got a little wild and head butted him when they switched seats. He got annoyed and went back to the play structure, but she followed. Next thing I knew they were having races down the tandem slides (with him doing the "Ready Set Go"). Then they were holding holds going down the slides (not sure who made the suggestion). He played with her and big sister building a road a la Caillou. I had to step in as translater to tell the girls what he was doing and what he wanted them to do. Ok, maybe a bit of a helicopter parent. But, I did tell him what to tell them he wanted, so that should count some, right?
The entire time we were there I kept wondering what is it about this park that brings out this side of him? I'd like to bottle it and bring it to a park closer to home.