Monday, December 04, 2006

Amazing playgroup day!

We had an amazing day at Wells Park today! Four new families showed up, and the community center really was amazing -- the staff were welcoming, there's a great playground, a gameroom, a big grassy field, a stage the kids loved.

The boys & I arrived at 12:30, just to get some questions answered -- since both Crystal & Beth were away (Beth found this center for us!) I wanted to be sure we didn't have any misunderstandings. I asked which room we could use and was offered the game room or some tables in the entrance area. The gym had been booked by another group today (more on that later) and the big back room had no heat, but is being repaired today. I asked if we were on time limit -- would we have to leave when the after-school kids showed up? The gal at the desk looked genuinely perplexed. I asked if it would be okay if our kids were still on the playground with the after school kids. Again, she looked a bit surprised and said "Sure, that's okay." She showed us where to sign in. We chose the game room which, it turned out, had two tabletop soccer games, two covered pool tables (those we were asked not to play with, no problem complying there) and two rows of long table with chairs. From the game room you can see the playground, which is fully enclosed.

How many kids does it take to build a train set? Is it possible to have too many builders?

Dan playing with Scotty's Nintendo DS - guess what tops his Christmas wish list this year?

Andy & Garrett, over yugioh cards.

Playing Hot Hoops, or maybe just talking about it

As the day went on, it got even better -- we had kids in the game room, and kids on the playground. Not always the same kids, in fact rarely the same kids. 19 kids and they played together in everchanging combinations -- yugioh cards, board games, tabletop soccer, freeze tag, hide & seek, playset slides, swings, scooters and a bike. Later in the afternoon -- about 3:30 or so -- I took the games I'd brought out to my car while there was a lull in the game room (the weather was so nice after all that most of the kids were outside). Just as I put the last stack of games in the trunk, a man comes up to me and says "you don't need to bring your own games -- we have a closet full of games. You can use any games you'd like." We introduced ourselves -- he was Jess, the manager of the center. He went on to say that the gym had been used today by a school group practicing for a holiday program, but that next week it would be available for us, too. That really most days the center is empty until the after school program starts, and they were happy to have us there. I told him that in the 5 years I've been homeschooling in Albuquerque, I've been to meetings at six other city centers, and today he and his staff had already treated us better than any other center in my experience. I explained that the other centers had seemed to not know what to do with us, that we'd been required to leave when other groups showed up. He shook his head, looked sad and said, "but that's why we're here, for families and kids to come and spend time."

I told Jenny we'd been offered the game closet, and a few minutes later I found the closet open (it is locked, but just ask the receptionist to open it). In there are several each of Monopoly, Sorry, Battleship, Clue, and more games I didn't catch the names of. Jenny found a wooden train set, and basketballs. After playing with the games and train set -- and putting it all away, we took basketballs over to the gym and spent most of an hour shooting (at) hoops with the kids.

Finally, at 5:15 the last of us headed out. Thank you, Beth, for finding this place for us -- I can't tell you what a great day we had there!

Scotty, putting the chain back on the gear on Conor's bike -- with the whole gang watching

Dan & Scotty heading out with a buddy to play hide & seek

Holly and crew coming down the slide as a train. The slide was Holly's idea. Jenny asked if she could take their picture. Holly said sure -- do you want a picture on the slide? Jenny said it was up to Holly, who jumped up, ran up to the slide and called out "I get engine!"

I just love tribe play days and our magnificent children!


Anonymous said...

Man, I am so envious. I know it has been a lot of work to get things together in Albuquerque, and we've jut moved to Norfolk and are in the early days shy faze whenever we are around other people. But, oh, I wish David had a job in Albuquerque. I read your blog and Sandra's and Crystal's and I just get this deep sense of loss that my life isn't with people who trust their children.


Sylvia said...

Hi Schuyler! Just last night, Gary asked me who reads my blog -- today I was able to tell him, hey there's this gal in England who reads my blog! Of course, I know you from when you lived here in Albuquerque, so maybe it's less impressive that you're reading from England.

yeah, we love this tribe, and it has been a good bit of effort to get us where we are. When we started out in April, with Crystal's vision for an unschoolers community, we had I think 5 families at our first meeting. Yesterday, we had 10 families -- 19 kids from age 1 to 15 -- and four (5 more kids) of our regular families weren't there. Yesterday really was our biggest turn-out yet.

It's a good life.