PICNIC IN THE PARK
Those that follow on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram are well aware that on Saturday I had a picnic in the park. As it turns out, it was also International Picnic Day. That isn’t why I had a picnic though.I think it was Wednesday of this past week that I became aware that my 5 year old grand daughter had never been on a picnic. WHAT? How is that even possible? My first task was to determine where the BEST park for a 5 year old in the area is. So, I visited mapofplay to narrow it down. My second step was to visit a few of my top pics to decide the real winner. I ultimately decided on Woodward Park in Manteca, CA. I choose it for a few reasons: It was HUGE, It had several play areas, the incredible green grass, and the neighborhood.When my grand daughter found out she was having a picnic in the park, she wanted to make sure I knew she needed a blanket, a basket, and a drink.
At our picnic in the park, we ate Ritz crackers, multiple types of cheese, pepperoni, apple slices, grapes, Mothers Animal Cookies, and Chicken in a Biscuit. She was most excited to see the Chicken in a Biscuit and Animal Cookies.
Grandma did plan ahead! I made sure to have funds ready for the ice cream truck! She selected a birthday cake ice cream sandwich by Blue Bunny. I had a bite and it was pretty good. She also got some caramel apple lollipops. She later shared them with some of the girls she made friends with.
I figured we be there like 2 or 3 hours. Five hours later, I was thinking I might need a tent because she was never leaving.
I liked that this park had an English/Spanish translation board. I don’t really think about it often, but CA is a very multilingual state. The board makes it so the kids can make friends and reduce the language barriers.
Through out the day the faces and names changed, but there was almost always 30-50 kids present. Sounds crazy right? This is a huge park with 4 play areas, huge fields, and a 1 1/2 mile perimeter walking trail with workout stations.
We flew a Barbie kite with a 4 year old girl named Chelsea and later ran in the sprinklers with her.
We made friends with a 4 year old girl named Savannah and her dad Steve at the swings. He was pushing the girls high to the sky. He also would twist the wings in a circle and let them spin to unwind.
We played Barbies and Frisbee with 6 year old Annie and her 4 year old cousin who were at the park for a family picnic. I can’t remember the cousin’s name.
While the park is huge, for the most part, the adults stayed to a distance allowing the kids to be kids. It was really neat! When my grand daughter couldn’t get on the zipline, she called me over to lift her up. She didn’t make it all the way across though because she didn’t weigh enough. An older child came over and gave her a push so she could finish her ride.
At one point a child fell off the rock climbing wall and just laid crying. Slowly the kids came over one by one to make sure the child was okay and to eventually help her up, when she was ready.
The kids played Tag. They played Tic Tac Toe on the spinners. Some of the best moments where when older children helped younger children. 10-12’s helping 4-6’s. 4-6’s helping toddlers. They used communication skills by asking for their toy back. They made friends by coming up with games to play and asking if the other child wanted to play it. They shared their snacks.
There were only a few times I saw parents helping or intervening. The first was at the younger swing set. The kids needed lifted into the swings and pushed. Another time was when a child about 2 years old fell and hit her head on a step. Beyond that, they were on their own to figure it out and work it out. Honestly, the kids were all really well behaved and didn’t require any discipline.
In a day where you generally only hear about play dates, scheduled activities, kids thinking of other kids as strangers, etc, it was a blessing to watch kids be kids.
I asked my grand daughter what the best part of having a picnic in the park was and she said, “PLAYING” It turns out the blanket and the basket and the drink aren’t the most important parts after all.