Children at the park are, perhaps, God's greatest invention. Or at least his most entertaining.
1. Five kids, plus their mom. You can tell the two-year-old adores her older sister. She follows her to the bathroom and chants her name (something like "Ken-ne-dy") while the older sister pees.
2. Kennedy, who's 4 or 5, discovers the drinking fountain. She punches the button in rapid succession, making the water jump in rhythmic spurts. "mom Mom MOm MOM MMOOOOOMMMMM" she yells until her breast-feeding mother looks over. "Wow, Sweetie, it's like it's dancing."
3. Packing up time. "Everyone has to grab everything that they brought. Mommy can't carry it all." The two-year-old patters around the table, loaded down with her "purse" and Hello Kitty backpack, which swings around like a furry shield. She forgets one shoe, and comes back.
4. Two sisters in dresses struggle to climb onto the swings. The younger one clambers up, flashing the entire neighborhood. The older one's dress is not so flappable.
5. A blonde girl rides up on her purple ten speed. She looks at the sisters, then at me, sitting on a bench by the bathrooms. "Are you their mom?"
6. The blonde biker decides to help the older sister. "How old are you?" First question. The sister: "I'm 8, how old are you?" The biker: "I'm 10. Are you 5?" The younger sister, swinging hard and grinning: "6!"
7. The biker sits next to me. She is wearing a striped shirt and plaid shorts.
"It's hot out here," she says. She fans herself.
"Yep." Pause. "How did you know their mom wasn't here?" I look at the moms around the park.
"I know them from school." She scoots closer. "Their older sister always walks ahead and leaves them. I don't think that's very nice."
"It seems like you like to take care of people."
"Yeah. There's a lot of babies in my family."
"So you're the oldest?"
"No. The babies are two cousins and a nephew."
"Oh." Pause. "So you all live together?"
"No, they live in Indiana."
She talks so easily to strangers. "Do you always make friends when you come to the park?"
"Yes. I'm here everyday. Unless there's no one here. Then it's boring and I go home."
8. The blonde biker and the sisters explore the park together. They ask the maintenance workers if they can use the workers' spray hose. The workers say no. The girls play tag instead.
9. A young boy with shoulder-length blonde hair is crying; he has to wait his turn on the swings. He finds a stick and stops crying. He pings the stick against the metal swingset and then proceeds to whack the wood chips, which spray in the air. Eventually he settles for throwing wood chips at his dad's behind, yelling, "I hit your butt!" every time.
10. This family also uses the bathroom, the father taking his son into the women's side. "Daddy is this the boys' bathroom?"
"Yes, Frankie it is. Now go pee."
I decide not to correct him. After all, he did have wood chips thrown at his butt.