“Hi Helena, unfortunately, I will not be able to come today. I am so sorry, I know that Rose wanted to go the park today,” my otherwise wonderful babysitter texted me couple of days ago, which means an afternoon alone with my two little ones. Seems scary, but I can neither run away nor lock myself in the bathroom. Since my mom left for Poland, we are all doing pretty well. The bags and clothes for the next day are usually prepared the evening before, and what we plan dinner during breakfast. I cook tomato soup for Rose, while changing Maya’s diaper. Maybe we eat a little too much pasta, maybe sometimes it’s hard and tense, but that’s life! Not too long ago, I was a single and I wanted a loving partner and children. Be careful what you wish for …
It is a gorgeous and eventful Berkeley summer – there was even an earthquake. My California girls did not take it too seriously, and fortunately it only took a few seconds. Great weather gets Rose to look out the windows and look for her shoes when she wakes up. With two small children I am not yet able to go to all playgrounds and parks. Luckily, there’s a wonderful toddler size park within walking distance named, of all things, Opal Staniek. We have a great tandem stroller, which fits both girls. However, it does seem that I am operating a small tank sometimes!
The park is a small fenced playground built on a lot that was the former home of Mrs. Opal Staniek. She left her property to the local community because she loved children very much. I read online that there was once a plaque in her memory, but it was removed by the wishes of her family. I wonder why.
Mrs Staniek would likely be so happy to see how kids love this playground. There are loads of donated toys, whose owners grew out of them. Cars, motorcycles, balls, swings, slides, sand toys and a large sandpit are all there, you name it. I also read that the sand used to cover most of the lot, but it became a subject of controversy between the Albany city authorities and the local residents. The point was that standards for people with disabilities required that there be more rubber, not sand. Fortunately, they have managed to work out a compromise and a sandbox, maybe a little smaller, is still there.
Rose always has fun there, recently dumping sand from a small toy truck with her playgroup friend. When Rose is running around the square, I can sit on the bench and rock Maya, who by the way must be the word’s well behaved baby! I try not to let Rose go of out of my sight, and the small size of the park helps . We always go there in the afternoon, as the playground gets over crowded mornings. The only problem is usually going home. Rose always wants to stay, but for that I also have my sweet ways … With two children a method of small bribe is quite essential to survival.
Having two kids somehow make me talk more to adults, who are present. Usually they are more nannies, but moms come too. The park population reflects the local population, many from Asia and Europe. There are a lot of Spanish Speaking nannies. One nanny with a hijab cared for caucasian kids. American parents come more on the weekends.
Fathers, grandparents also patronize the park. I see far fewer dark-skinned children. Many people of color live here, but few have young children; they are usually older residents.
After all of the hard working tasks and all of emotions with two kids at home, we are looking forward for evening time. We have started to have an obligatory home movie date every weekend. Fortunately, Maya and Rose are quite good with synchronizing not only their crying, but also their naps and bedtimes. Here are pictures taken by me and Dean:) There is nothing like family..