Friday, 7 May 2010

Why can't more meetings be held

in the park?
I had to talk with a young mother yesterday. She has a problem with her eldest school going child and she wanted to talk to me. She does not work because she needs to be available at short notice to get this particular child from school.
"I need to get out of the house, even if it just for a short time," she told me, "Can we meet for coffee?"
I thought of the lively two year old and said, "What if we take Tom to the park instead?"
"Oh, he'd love that!"
So, we head for the park. There are swings, a climbing frame and a rocker shaped like a duck.
Released from the stroller Tom heads straight for the rocker, climbs in, rocks for a bit, climbs out, pushes a swing, climbs the frame, runs around and around the big tree. We watch and call out approval. He comes backwards and forwards.
His mother talks and talks. I make some suggestions. I try to keep them very simple and make them things that the family can follow through without major changes to routine or singling out of one child.
All the time Tom is busy. He has found out the blocks on one side of the climbing frame can be rolled over to make "X" and "O" for noughts and crosses. He is too young to play the game but he recognises that they change. He 'hides' from us and comes back laughing.
"You know, I never brought Chris to the park. He would have loved it too. Somehow I never made the time. I've only been here a couple of times with Tom. We used to come all the time when I was a kid. Kids don't seem to use it much now. I suppose it's all the mothers working thing."
It's not too late. We add visits to the park as something they can do. I just hope it is fine enough on Saturday for Chris's father to push his son on the swings.


Sheep Rustler said...

That struck a real chord with me. Like her, I also have to be available to deal with a child at short notice. (Though I am far from being a 'young' mother these days! And my children are 13 and 16. They still like parks and playgrounds, by the way!) Small children are always happier when they have something to do, preferably active. Is there a playgroup she can go to? I did that a lot with mine when they were little and found that a good way for both parents and children to socialise. Both she and the 2 year old need time out of the house, to be in the sunshine, to 'do' or to 'be'. I feel for her and you sound like a very wise counsellor.

catdownunder said...

A play group is one of the things we are working on...but it has to be something that she feels comfortable about going to as and when she can - and leaving if she needs to. It is, as you can probably guess, a complex situation and shows the very real need for some specialist schooling to be available whatever political correctness might dictate.

Rachel Fenton said...

We love the park - the parks where we lived in the UK were dire so we really appreciate the ones we live near now. If time is short we play at home, outside when it's fine, and my kids love to help - even with dinner - so a box with chunky buttons makes a safe oven and another box with a smaller one set in holds a small plastic bowl for washing up! If it's raining, they cook dinner! And they can change their kitchen as often as they like. I think they like to feel needed and to interact with their parents as much as with other kids.

catdownunder said...

Oh yes, and buttons made great plates, with twigs as knives and forks!