Chloe and I went out to the farm last weekend to enjoy a little mother nature and an extra day off of school. When we arrived, we went to the school playground across the street hoping to meet some of the local kids. Once again, as always, the playground was empty.
In Chicago, on almost any day, the local school playground is buzzing with kids and their families. It is has been central to our community experience. We have had pizza delivered to the playground for those impromptu gatherings when the weather is good, the kids are playing nice, and we just don't want to go home and cook supper. A kind, anonymous donor supports an annual Easter Egg hunt. My kid knows little of Easter, but what the heck, it's a community event - a chance to see friends who've been cooped up behind closed doors all winter. Even if no one from our immediate circle will be there, a trip to the playground is always a chance to meet new friends.
Not so in the country. When school is out, the kids are gone. Where? To their homes to play in their big backyards with their own private playground?
There is nothing so lonely as an empty playground. "Will you be my friend, Mom? Will you play with me?"
I choked back tears of regret. "Sure, honey. I'd love to play."
We went from swings to the slide to the monkey bars. We stirred up the puddles with damp sticks, making bubbles from the muddy water. "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble..." We became witches, casting spells on the local population. We threw in a few for Daddy. "When these bubbles pop, you'll suddenly want to do the dishes, cook dinner, fold some clothes and stay up all night playing Uno. I made her laugh so hard she almost peed her pants. It didn't matter, because before we left we were mostly covered in mud, giggling all the way home.