Every Sunday is a challenge for our family. As we’ve mentioned before, the days of us lazily spending our Sundays at home, perhaps vegging out in front of the television, are long gone. We have a responsibility now, to Muffin and Squeaker, to give them a stimulating Sunday every week.
This past Sunday, we were trying to decide what to do for the day to amuse them. One of the families with whom we have had a number of play dates this summer said they were not available because they were attending Brookline Day at Larz Anderson Park. We hadn't been thinking of going, due to us not having a car and Larz Anderson not being particularly accessible by public transit. However, the town was running shuttle buses from various locations, including the Reservoir MBTA station, so we quickly got everyone ready and rushed out to catch the last shuttle bus at 12:45 p.m.
On arrival at the park, we immediately saw the large trucks, including backhoe loaders, dump trucks, and other large earth-moving equipment, parked outside for people to look at and for kids to get an opportunity to sit on. Neither Muffin nor Squeaker wanted to sit on any of them, and Muffin was a bit scared by the noise that some of the trucks were making, so after a brief stop by the Fire Safety house – where the girls were given Junior Firefighter hats and sticker badges – we entered the main park to check out the Brookline Day celebration.
Our first stop was at the booth set up by the Clay Center Observatory. Michael and I have known the folks from the Observatory since we instigated the local fight to save Pluto from demotion. Now that the girls are older and getting interested in space, we hope to take them some day soon to one of the Clay Center's regular Tuesday Open Telescope nights.
Michael and I wanted to check out some of the other booths that were set up on the field, but Muffin had a definite goal in mind. There was a bouncy castle set up, and she was going to bounce. So after a brief stop to let the girls try their hands at tossing basketballs into a hoop, we headed over to the line for the large bouncy castle. There were a lot of families waiting, but the staff was efficient and kept the line moving.
As we got farther ahead in the line, Muffin told me that she was nervous that once she went in, she wouldn't want to come out and that we'd have to go in after her because she was having too much fun bouncing. I explained to her that every group got a turn and that she would have to come out, and after some thought she accepted that. Meanwhile, Squeaker was holding Michael's hand and performing some practice bounces on the ground.
As we approached the head of the line, however, Squeaker bounced less and less. And when Michael lifted her up to remove her shoes before she went in, she got apprehensive. Muffin went in and started bouncing away, and Squeaker watched from the side of the castle. After a brief time, however, Squeaker decided that bouncing looked like fun, after all, and she joined Muffin in the bouncy castle. At the end of the girls' allotted time, they came back out of the bouncy castle with no fight (though Muffin was a bit apprehensive of coming back out through the small door in the castle), and we put their shoes back on and continued exploring the venue.
We visited a couple of booths before Muffin let us know about her next goal for the day. She wanted a balloon. Vehemently. Would she settle for going to see another inflatable game? No – she wanted a balloon. Could we talk to someone at a booth? No, she wanted a balloon. So we walked around the grounds looking for the booth giving out the balloons.
Finally we found it. And they were out of balloons. Muffin was sad but grudgingly accepting of her balloonless state.
We continued to stop at booths and talk to people, and finally we came to the booth representing the Public Library of Brookline. As did many of the booths, they had balloons decorating their tent. Muffin was still sad about not having a balloon, so the people staffing the booth, whom we knew because of Michael's connection to the library, offered both her and Squeaker balloons. We tied the balloons to the girls' wrists and headed off to see other booths.
After another booth or two, Squeaker started to whimper. Apparently, her balloon had come loose and was quickly making a break for it. I tried but failed to grab it as it rose. From our luck getting the first set of balloons, I felt confident going to another of the town-sponsored booths and asking if I could impose on them for a balloon for my bereft three-year-old daughter. The person staffing the booth agreed to give me one whole bunch of balloons from the booth, from which I was welcome to take as many as I could untangle. As I stood there untangling a new balloon for Squeaker, another family came up and asked whether they could have a balloon as well. I offered them all of the remaining balloons after I untangled Squeaker's replacement balloon, and they took me up on the offer.
Now fully stocked with well-affixed balloons, we finished our circuit of the booths, mindful of the departure time of the final shuttle bus back to Reservoir station. We stopped at the Recreation Department's booth, where a golden egg from Magic Beans had been hidden. I spotted the egg and asked if I could have it, as Magic Beans was giving coupons for merchandise to anyone who returned a golden egg. The man at the Recreation Department booth let me take the egg, and I offered it to the girls to carry. Muffin took it from me, and at first she wanted to keep it, but I convinced her to return it to the man at the Magic Beans booth.
She happily walked between the booths, clutching the egg. Squeaker asked me to give her an egg, too, but I explained to her that we only had one. I suggested to Muffin that she carry the egg and then let Squeaker give the egg to the person at the booth, but Muffin was determined to return the egg. So when we got to the Magic Beans booth, after Muffin returned the egg, I asked the person collecting the eggs if he could give me one that I could give to Squeaker to give to him. He was game, and he provided an egg to Squeaker that she could then return.
The booths were all winding down, and the time was approaching for the shuttle bus, so Michael, Muffin, Squeaker, and I headed for the bus stop. Weary but happy, we boarded the shuttle for home, glad to have spent a lovely afternoon celebrating the Town of Brookline.
This week’s column is written by Nomi S. Burstein.