Thursday, June 10, 2010

story: an afternoon at the park

Lisa W met with Marlene, Elena and Stella on Monday May 10, 2010.

Marlene and Todd have been married for 8 years now. Their twin daughters are 2 and a half years old. They live near Main and 28th. The couple met in first year at university. Todd is a web designer, and Marlene is almost done nursing school. Marlene says, "We hoped for this neighbourhood. Mount Pleasant was kind of our dream, and when we found the place we are at now we were like are you kidding me?! Yes we'll take it right now!"

Marlene takes Stella and Elena to the park at Riley Park Community Centre most afternoons after their nap. Today they ride in their red wagon with their pre-packed snacks and their shovel and bucket to play in the sand with. I am tagging along with them this sunny Monday afternoon.

Stella says she is "baking" things in the sand, and comes back and forth telling us there is a strawberry pie baking, and that when she hears the buzzer she will have to go and get it from the oven otherwise it will burn. She marches off with purpose, retrieving her pie and bringing it back to Marlene, saying "It's hot, it's hot!" and watches intently as Marlene "tastes" the pie, saying "Holy moly! It's soo good!" Stella seems quietly pleased and goes off to make another.

Marlene tells me her story in between interacting with the girls, calming tantrums and eating "pies":

"I got pregnant in Japan. Todd and I traveled around a lot before having kids. We taught english in Taiwan and Japan and then traveled all over south east Asia while we were there. We came back to Vancouver and lived in Yaletown for awhile. I notice now that this area is way more community-minded. It's easier to approach people and talk to them, no one thinks you're a whack-o. People want to make friends up here, not that they don't in Yaletown, it's just different. Plus there's houses and yards here, how fun is that, right? We go for walks in the evenings now and it's just so great.

We felt like we hit the jackpot with this park. Now they can handle being in bigger parks. Having the fence around it, and all the structures are low. If they aren't playing on anything they can play in the sand. I can see them everywhere. It's very conducive to having conversations with friends.

It's a great place to meet other moms. We all help each other out. I guess moms do that everywhere, but here you don't have to join the mom's group.

We go everywhere around this neighbourhood. We go to Re Entry all the time. We've been to the play gym in the new community centre but it's so crowded. We used to go to Once Upon a Huckleberry Bush.

The girls and I look for cats in the neighbourhood. We smell all the flowers; tulips, daisies and daffodils are our favourite. There is a house with a great water fountain at 28th and Ontario, we like to go and look at the rocks there. We explore this neighbourhood a lot, it is Elena and Stella's favourite thing to do.

These girls are so clever and funny already. When I was potty training them I would say, "Good job!" when they would do it right. I go to the bathroom with the door open when they are home and when they see me they say "Good job!" with just as much sincerity and enthusiasm as I say it."

Time at the park comes to an end. The girls return to their wagon to finish their snacks on the ride home. Stella remembers I've ridden my bike and that I have to go get it. They all wave at me as we go our separate ways.

It is amazing to me to meet these children being raised by such fantastic parents. I have met so many parents in this neighbourhood who talk to their kids as equals, instead of as little children. They engage their kids in everything going on around them. One of my favourite parts of this neighbourhood is the interesting and intelligent little kids, and one of the most inspiring parts of this neighbourhood for me has been the strong, busy and creative parents.

Thanks to Marlene and co. for letting me tag along and having a lovely afternoon with them!

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