We decided to revisit some of our favorite playgrounds to see how they were the second time around. General response: a huge thumbs-up.
Arlington Reservoir Beach: Last time we went, we tried to focus on Mt. Gilboa Playground, the playground at the reservoir. But the tots were magnetically drawn to the mucky, ankle-deep water. The entire park had a seedy, unkempt, off-season feel (not surprisingly; it was still only May).
A recent visit on a blazing July weekend gave us a beach crowded with families and a lovely expanse of clean, cool water. The park wasn't overly crowded, and we found a great shady spot on the beach under one of the large trees.
Max and his sidekick, Sienna, spent plenty of time in the water, borrowing other kids' buckets and sand toys or chasing each other into deeper water. They even threw themselves into the water, pretending to swim (neither can). I took Max out to the far side, where it's even deeper, for dolphin rides. "Dolphin rides" means I am the dolphin, swimming on my back, and he straddles my waist and holds onto my swimsuit straps while I swim on my back. He loves this game. He insisted I swim toward the fountain, where Sienna joined us. Due to the water shooting out of the fountain, the lifeguards, and all the other people around us, we didn't let the toddlers climb all over the fountain as they had on our earlier visit.
The Reservoir Beach is a lovely place to spend a morning or day. There are changing facilities and a concession stand. Weekend fees are $10 per person for nonresidents and $7 per person for residents.
Lussiano Park: Lussiano Park, on North Union Street, was no more crowded on a weekend than on a hot weekday. Max had little interest in the water and instead headed right for the sand pit and its diggers. He staked one out for himself, perching on the seat and warily watching some older kids who were digging in the sand. He didn't want to have to share the digger, methinks. He didn't have to this time. The older kids were content to dig with small shovels.
On this visit, Max wanted to play in the playground. He especially liked the small structure, with its tunnel and steps, but he did not seem to like the boy who sat on top of the structure throwing his shoes and some twigs overboard. Can't say I blame him.
Lunchtime/naptime drew us away, but this is a park we'll return to, I'm sure.
Spy Pond Park: The relentless Bowlesian sun at Spy Pond Park is actually not so awful on a July morning. In fact, half the playground is in lovely shade, including—yes!—the digger. Again, Max had no competition for the digger, though he kept a watchful eye on a nine-month-old girl whose caregiver was kept busy trying to keep the girl from eating gravel (she mostly succeeded). Max did try the roller slide, just once, but he preferred the digger and the spring-mounted motorcycle ride-on toy. He loved that motorcycle, in fact, and for the rest of the day asked me why I no longer ride a motorcycle (answer: I am a terrible motorcycle rider…which of course made me wonder how to responsibly explain to a child that I quit doing something because I am not good at it, even though we encourage Max to do things he isn't good at. But no one said parenting was easy).
The playground at Spy Pond Park is still a lovely place, and in the mornings you don't need heavy amounts of sunscreen and big sturdy sunhats. You can just kind of relax. Some parents were letting their children wade and swim in the water. I believe this is prohibited, but the pond is inarguably right there if you want to point out ducks, look at boats, or (I don't endorse this) break the no-swimming rule.