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Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Park Life

This week started well, with a pretty much perfect English day out: a 'grand picnic' in Regent's Park orchestrated magnificently by author and great friend Barry (pictured here with Ava and me) and his wife Mary (Actually, I must say I think the marvellous Mary did most of the orchestrating while Barry looked on in helpless wonder at her organisational prowess).
I love London parks in summer, and Regent's Park was in particularly romantic mood on Sunday, with the whispy pollen from the huge sprawling trees above our heads floating down to rest on us all. Of course, the world and his (designer) wife (plus perfectly planned 1.2 children and matching Bugaboo) was out in force, using the park as promenade. I felt rather pleased to buck this trend, with our extremely un-designer chariot (slightly muddy, slightly sticky Mothercare double buggy bought on eBay for a song; beakers, bottles, picnic rug, football, toy picnic set and all spilling out everywhere) and our proper little motley brood in tow.
One of the things I love about taking kids to an event like this is the way that they almost instantly adapt to the surroundings, find a way to have fun. On Sunday it was the nearby, empty bandstand which seemed to draw the children from all the surrounding picnic-ing groups. Gangs were formed and dissolved and reformed, and multiple games initiated, before the adults had opened the first bottles of wine for the day.
Amongst the parents at the picnic though there was a subtle undercurrent of anxiety, as the variously sized children were watched over in shifts to prevent any falls into the boating lake on one side or any adventurous wanderings into the wooded areas behind. 'Stranger danger' and how to approach it with children was discussed in subdued tones, the news story about missing Madeleine foremost in everyone's minds.
But it was wonderful to observe the insistent, disruptive force of the children, who refused to allow an entirely picture perfect picnic. I love their energy, their ability to make friendships in an instant, to break through social mores with the subtlety of small, rampaging elephants, to ensure that noone gets engaged in too serious a conversation for too long. It can be frustrating, yes, to try to circulate amongst a party of adults only to be constantly interrupted by the need to attend to ones children. But it occurs to me that I spend the majority of my week dealing with other grown-ups, being professional, imposing structure and efficiency on things. Sometimes it's good to be disrupted from all that.
As we loaded our lot into the buggy for the return journey home, Nathan and Ava fell almost instantly asleep (see pic), whilst Eden was virtually keeling over with contented exhaustion. For them it had definitely been a perfect day out. And that's what matters most to me.

1 comment:

Dina said...

that is a great post, I am sure that all the kids, designers or not would love to get muddy and play who cares about designer styles etccc.... kids just want to have fun and you really do understand that well done.