Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Thing #12: When one door closes, a jungle opens...

I guess when you make plans to go somewhere it is probably helpful to find out when that place closes. This is probably something well-organized people do. I am not a well-organized person these days.

Daddy and I had discussed giving one of the Ontario Early Years Centres a try. These are free spaces, run by the government, for children up to the age of 6. They host workshops, run activities and provide a place for kids to play. I have been very hesitant about going to one up until now. There is no reason I can give without coming across as either a total snob or generally anti-social and since I'm not interested in alienating anyone who might be reading this, we'll just say I've never taken the LP there before. But as Daddy and I were discussing yesterday's Storytime last night, we came to the conclusion that it would probably be beneficial for both LP, but LP1 in particular, to socialize more with other kids. And Daddy also gently pointed out that it might just be beneficial for me to find a fellow Mommy friend, too.

So after researching the local Early Years Centres, we headed out for the closest one this morning. It was not easy to find. The LP and I were traipsing hither and yon in search of the elusive location. I finally had to admit directional defeat and we stopped in at a church office for help (I figured anyone who worked in a church office was predisposed to be helpful and I was proven correct). We were soon sent on our way. We entered the centre. LP1 was immediately excited to see toys in the hallway and shelves lined with books. I was just about to take the LP out of the stroller when the lady in charge advised us that this particular centre is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until 11:30 am. As it was now 11:27 am, they were preparing to close. Sigh. She directed us to another centre, open later, that was hosting a BBQ today. Once we had returned to the car, we headed out to that one...but LP1 fell asleep en route. I turned around and headed home. We'll have to try another day. Operation Mommy Friend will also have to wait.

Once again, I was left without a plan. What to do, what to do? Fortunately after naptime my magic genie appeared in the form of Auntie K. She suggested we head over to the nearby indoor playground for some fun. Done and done. We loaded the kids up and went to Jungle Hut.

Jungle Hut is an indoor playground with everything from rocking horses to giant slides that deposit one into an enclosed space filled with soft plastic balls. It is lined with soft mats and everything is covered in brightly coloured gymnastic mats to prevent injury. It was a perfect place to take the LP. As we arrived, we were informed that they would be closing in an hour (note to self: start looking into operating hours of places). One hour would probably be just the right amount of time for the LP.

The rules of the jungle. We forgot socks but the guy behind the counter was too worried about his internet problems to care.

LP1 had been to Jungle Hut a very long time ago but like many things we do, this is the first time both LP could participate in something together. There was something there for every age group, so I knew both LP would have fun. 

LP1's favourite: the giant slide that ended in the ball pit. LP2 later came to play in the ball pit and also found it great fun.

Having Auntie K with us was great because we could play divide and conquer. Auntie K chased LP1 around, made sure she was safe on the slides and kept an eye on where she was disappearing to in the midst of all the netting, tunnels and obstacles. I stayed with LP2 as he crawled through the caterpillar tunnel, rocked on the elephant rocking horse and played in the area that was more at baby-height.

LP2's favourite: the smaller-sized area. He surprised me by climbing up the steps on the left side ALL BY HIMSELF! LP1 was digging the balance beam & small purple slide.

When we first arrived, there was a father with several children there but none of the kids were close in age to the LP. They soon left. No fellow-child socialization and no potential Mommy friend there. Oh well. Another mom and her young son arrived. Unfortunately he was too young for LP1 and too old for LP2. Eventually the mother and I struck up a conversation. She was very nice. She was also from out of town. Foiled again!

The one-hour-before-closing went by fast. I have a sneaking suspicion Angry About the Internet Man was closing up shop early. LP1 didn't want to go and Auntie K got to experience the joy of Refuse to Leave pose. A trip back to the pet store soon soothed the hurt of leaving a fun time too soon.

We'll try the Early Years Centre next week, maybe. And maybe I'll keep an eye out for the elusive potential Mommy friend...

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