Wednesday, April 16, 2014

three venues

we now have four kids at home, ranging from 5-12, and we need places to go that are outside, safe, friendly, and accessible. our first choice is the lazy river, an outdoor pool at the university that has just opened up again, and we are all avid swimmers, so this works out great. it has some downsides: if you forget your sunblock or aren't thorough enough, you're dead. the kids lose clothing or leave it in the car. they refuse to leave, which is a good side, i guess.

the science spectrum is another place. this weekend we went there for a while. there was a little animal show, back in the stage corner of the basement, where a guy was showing live animals. one was a skink, a large fat kind of lizard from australia. another was a tarantula named hollywood. in order to get to that stage you have to walk through an exhibit on the brazos river watershed, with large pictures of lowland swamps that exist in a certain narrow corridor down through the state of texas. for a hot, dry state as huge as it is, you might not even know we have any lowland swamp, but we do, and when you're in that museum basement, you feel like you're in the middle of it. i like to sit on a bench in that basement where a radio plays an endless loop on the lubbock weather, which on this day was windy with a fire danger, but still warm. the kids tear around; it's hard to keep up with them, but they generally aren't too far beyond my awareness.

last place: it's called legacy village, and i'm really beginning to wonder about it. it has a huge fort, an old village area, and lots of play equipment. it's generally popular with lots of kids but the pure number is a little overwhelming. some kids are not all that nice. the other day there were kids who had been instructed to leave families alone, but who still didn't. ah well. came back and told my friends at work, and they said that needles and condoms had been found at the park. i guess it requires pretty constant supervision of all kinds. i was always a fan of letting kids run off and do physical things on playground equipment, enjoying the fresh outdoor air, and relating to people in a healthy environment. i guess, in some ways, we'd be better off out on the plains in a dusty riverbed.

it used to be, you could let your kids run out the front door and they'd pretty much wander the neighborhood, getting into some trouble but usually treating woods and fields like a large playground. whole afternoons would go by and they'd come back when they were hungry which was generally dinnertime. the evenings were slightly more guarded. they'd go outside again for a few more hours, this time for a nighttime game of tag or capture the flag but this time parents would want to know where they were and what they were doing and pretty much didn't want them wandering off at the edges, on the busy streets, or even where people couldn't see what was happening. in the day this wasn't an issue because people were around, and they could see. windows were open. if somebody yelled or something happened, people would come out and look.

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