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The Multi-Park Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old.

by Hal Evan Caplan
August 4, 2007

Often we are torn between choices. What to eat for dinner, what movie to go see this weekend, what outfit to wear to work and in this case having my three year old teacher decide which park he wants to play at for the day. You see, he has two favorite parks at the moment.

Both parks are great; however, each park offers completely different activities. One park has the jungle gym, baseball fields, soccer fields, great hard paved paths intertwined throughout the park as well as a stream that crosses that path in several places. As you could imagine, this stream is a hot spot for kids to play in. My teacher ends up always getting drenched. I have to take more than one change of clothes...believe me, I learned the hard way, the first time. Getting back to the subject at hand, the other park is one of our state parks and it offers such activities as a BMX track, a huge lake for paddle boating/canoeing, a beach area and a single track off road bike loop in the woods.

One of the parks he has nicknamed the "BMX" park and the other he calls it by its official name, Heardmont Park, although it is hard for him to pronounce, in the end, I do know what he is trying to say. He pronounces it, "Herman Park". As you could imagine, my teacher loves both parks for different reasons. The parks are in opposite directions of each other and visiting either park can become an all day event. Trying to get my teacher to decide which park to go to is like pulling teeth. He changes his mind so much that one could make a game show out of his answers.

Before we leave the house, the usual conversation would take place.
"Dad, lets go to 'Herman' BMX..."
"You need to pick one." I expressed.
"No, I don't want pick this time, you pick." He replied.
"Okay, let's go to the BMX track." I suggested.
"No, let's go to 'Herman' park." He shot back.
"Okay, Heardmont Park it is." I replied.
"No, let's just go to BMX..."

This would go back and fourth until finally, I would tell him that the next park he named would be our destination, period...end of story. That is how choosing which park to go to would play out, but on one weekend a few weeks ago, this changed. Without me realizing it, the lesson that I was to learn was starring me right in the face.

On this Saturday morning, we just finished the usually verbal tennis match, going back and forth with which park to play. Then, I thought of a great plan and I made the suggestion to my teacher.

"Let's go to the BMX Park today and we can go to Heardmont Park tomorrow." I suggested.
"Dad, I have a better idea..." He started as his face lit up.
"...let's go to both parks, today." He finished.

Without really thinking about the proposal, I shot back with what I felt was a reasonable reply.

"Let's save some fun for the other park, tomorrow." I suggested.
"Why can't we just go to both?" He asked
"It makes more sense to choose one today and the other tomorrow." I replied.
"I don't understand...two parks are better than one." He indicated.
"Let's save some fun at the other park for tomorrow." I Emphasized.
"But don't you see we can have ALL of the fun today." He expressed.
"Seriously, why would you want to visit both parks today? Both parks are fun; they take up most of the day playing...I mean, you are having fun anyway at either park." I Revealed.
"But what if it rains tomorrow?" He pointed out.

He did have a point. We were in the middle of a rainy week and on this day, according to the Weather Channel; it was less likely to rain on that day.

Then he paused, collected his thoughts and expressed something that I thought was an interesting spin on having fun...

"It's not fun to NOT have fun!" He began.
"Okayyyyy." I replied, waiting for the rest of his thought.
"Dad", he continued, "I think everyone should have fun...always...all the time...always.? He finished.

I actually agree with his point...

After thinking about it for a little while, we actually did have time to go to both Parks. The issue was that fact that "I" didn't want to go to both Parks. After discussing it with my teacher we did decide to play at both parks.

I did realize at that my teachers lesson was right on target..and in the end, going to both parks in one day was not really all that bad.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: When the opportunity for fun presents itself, you should take advantage of it whenever you can.

About the Author:
Originally from Colorado; now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors and is always willing to learn...and of course, always learns from his son.

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