Family fun when youngest take the lead

Conventional wisdom would have us believe that your social life ends when you are a parent. And, to an extent, it is true.

Unless you have a healthy babysitting budget and an even healthier sense of boundaries, you will find yourself attending less parties, gatherings, shindigs and soirees. You will go out on fewer dates, eat out less, and when you do eat out, the establishment is far more likely to feature Happy Meals than candlelight and linens.

There is, however, another side to the story. In your incessant search for ways to socialize your child, and more importantly to exorcise their manic and nonstop energy, you will find new social venues. You’ve got to get out of the house.

On Tuesday, my significant other, Brian, and I headed for Wheeler Park in Claremont, looking for the Holy Grail: A free family outing. The Claremont Police Department was screening the animated Dr. Seuss film, The Lorax.

We arrived at 8:00 p.m. or so, armed with a bedspread and an armful of snacks. The movie wasn’t ready and wouldn’t start until nearly 9 p.m. or so, because the police seemed to be having some technical difficulty with the screen.

No matter. Our 4-year-old son, Alex, began doing what he does so well, something I remember too. He made friends. Before long, he was running in circles with an Our Gang-style bunch of kids, who needed no more in common than the fact they were kids and they had been made honorary deputies by virtue of the gold sheriff’s star stickers distributed by the officers. He even met a boy who will be in his transitional kindergarten class in the fall.

I’ve got a 4-year-old son, Alex, and, like every other parent, I’m pretty sure he’s the cutest and most precocious kid around. I’m also certain that he has a manic amount of energy.

And what do you do when seated on a blanket on a grassy expanse for an hour, with the sun setting inexorably, surrounded by parents keeping one eye on their gamboling kids? Brian and I made some acquaintances too.

The mother of Alex’s future schoolmate expounded the virtues of the kids’ judo class at the Alexander Hughes Community Center—only $60 per session plus uniform costs, with a new session starting every 8 weeks. Our neighbors to our right shared they were already growing pumpkins in advance of their favorite holiday, Halloween, and they would likely carve 20 pumpkins over the course of October. And the woman to the front of us offered a bottle of cold water to our son.

It may not have been a party, but it was probably friendlier than many gatherings. After all, most people try to be their best for their kids.

There was one more snafu when the film began when it was discovered that the project was displaying the film backwards. It was only notable during the credits, though, and we enjoyed the screening. The night was warm but cooling down and the film—a fable about the perils of abusing the environment—was enjoyable.

It was proof positive that while life is different with kids, it can still be social. We’ll be heading next Tuesday for Lewis Park to see Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. Hopefully, we’ll see some familiar faces and meet new ones. 

Oh yeah, and does anyone know of a good babysitter?

—Sarah Torribio


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