Are you a South Florida parent, grimacing your way through the summer heat with a diminishing supply of "aces in the hole" when it comes to occupying the kids? You don’t want to admit it, but you’ve got a countdown. Yep. 18 more days.
Sometimes it makes you nostalgic. Roughly 3 weeks remain of indulging in your family habits, which—were you to describe them to someone with kids beyond the ages of 0-6 range—sound a bit weird. What have you been doing since that emotional Pre-K graduation back in June? I’m guessing you spent it like I did, lining the pockets of Monkey Joe’s, Latte Fun and the PlayTown Café.
This next snapshot of a summer assumes you are me. Ready? You prioritized piano lessons and the aquisition of a 100-year-old grand piano for your kids to practice on, over the health of your front lawn, deciding to wait on replacing the broken sprinklers—but it’s worth it every time you hear your son play a simple duet with his father, and suddenly you don’t mind that your grass is the exact same color as those decorative Thanksgiving ears of corn; any day now a neighbor is going to march over and complain about how it makes the street look, but it doesn't matter because that piano is sweeeeet.
If you haven’t used things like music, martial arts or swim lessons to add structure to a school-less day, chances are your waist high charges are playing hockey in the living room right now. Without sticks or pucks. If you’re old like me, you laugh when you see them skidding around the floor in their PJ’s because it reminds you of Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
My point is, you’re doing a lot of familiar stuff that even the kids are getting sick of (but their way of telling you is to simply fight all the way there). Your car is a rolling landfill because of all the patronizing you’ve done at the usual haunts.
You’re a good consumer. You have discovered that the Wendy’s Frosty is currently priced at $1.20; you have learned to regale the kids when it’s time to stir the Crystal Light—a product that delights you because you can make pitcher after pitcher of pretty good drinks for next to nothing. You are a regular at the local library, the air-conditioned playground with modest cover charge AND you found a community-sponsored event that will teach your tots the Macarena for free! You even brought your family to Toy Story 3 and fogged up your 3-D glasses when the toys said goodbye to Andy (spoiler alert).
So all that being said, is there anything new to do in this neck of the woods called Broward County? Are we ready to spend the rest of the 18 days eating Fun-Shaped Dinosaur nuggets, reuniting the ends of 115 broken Crayolas and re-organizing the sock drawer? Are is your favorite park worthy of a second look and ready to spare you from this particular brand of Cabin Fever?
We answered yes to this question yesterday, and the story goes like this: The household woke at 7am, puttered around until the laundry finished drying and showed no real interest in putting any of it on until an astonishing 10 hours later; then we headed out, Mom having downed two aspirin to conquer the very slight beginnings of a headache, forming at the center of her unibrow (I get them a lot, but I know it’s not a tumor; it’s a "cabin fever headache"). We drove to Cypress Park, and, for the first time in over 300 visits to the place, finally went past the gated tot lot, into what lay just over the large bridge spanning a canal.
In the past, I’d had no interest in exploring what the rest of this park had to offer because anyone who came jogging over that bridge, and toward our gated tot lot looked so not a part of my current universe. They were all civilized adults in coordinated sports attire, swigging from Evian and lost in their own little world of MP3s. To make a long story short, it just didn’t look like we had anything to lose back there.
How wrong I was! When I went over the bridge, I discovered about two football fields worth of the soft green grass my front lawn doesn’t have at the moment. The kids took off their shoes and began running madly across the soccer fields that weren’t in use—and to make matters better, there was a paved path surrounding all this wide open space that allowed you to walk about a half mile ahead of your child with no fear of his running off or accessing a congested parking lot.
We were there just after a heavy rainfall and the sun was setting; the temperature had dropped to about 77 degrees and we were happy. My 3 year old daughter actually laid down in a huge rain puddle and splashed around like a cute little pig—and I say that with endearment; this is what she looked like and I mean no offense in saying so. My 5 year old boy hugged me two different times and said, “Thank you so much for bringing me here, Mama. I Love you.”
It was free and packed less calories than a $1.20 Wendy’s frosty. I implore you to take your own kids now—and if you don’t make it to this park, take a moment to thoroughly explore your favorite stand-by park. There could be a lot more to it than meets the eye.