I will be the first to admit that our center does not have the fanciest playground in the world. It's limitations begin with the fact that we are located in an industrial park and the yard is sandwiched between our building and the building next door. A tall wooden fence circles the entire yard. (I actually don't mind the fence - as you can see, it makes a great chalkboard and easel.) The yard is anchored by a large wooden play structure with swings. There is also a Little Tyke's play house and a Little Tyke's play pirate ship play structure. We have a wooden boat (which is meant to hold sand - but we use it for imaginative play), several riding toys, and a plastic see saw. The entire play yard floor is covered with mulch. Okay, you may say, that doesn't sound so bad. But here is the big negative for me: there isn't a tree in sight. No plants. An errant weed pops up now and then but the kids grab them up lickety split (we are lovers of seaweed salad, of course).
Someday when I grow up and open my own center (yes, Jen, I promise that one day I really will be grown up and brave and ready!) I will have grass to run on and trees to lie under and a lovely area for making mud pies and musical instruments to play songs on and those cool tree cookies to climb across and . . . I'm sure it will be just as wonderful as it has been in my mind for all of these years. But until that day is here I vow to be content with my little play yard in the industrial park. And this is why . . . Today those scrumptious littles of mine just made me want to scoop them all up and give them a great big group hug as I watched them outside. One group gathered in a corner and after setting up chairs for spectators, they put on a show for each other. The audience clapped and cheered for whoever was in the spotlight. Another group commandeered the boat, reeling in sharks from "the high seas." In the house, mulch (always a favorite play toy in our yard) became food and money as some enterprising young ladies opened a bakery/ice cream shop.
Those littles are always teaching me what's important. Friendship. Imagination. Cooperation. Fun. And you know something? They don't miss that imaginary play yard in my head one bit.