|(This was part of a larger writing project that I shared with my own father, Wilford Park, which he enjoyed reading.)
Activities with Robin at 4
In Madison Robin and I often go to a library, a park or the zoo, and sometimes we go to a museum, the capitol or the arboretum. In the summer Robin especially likes the Memorial Union terrace and lakefront at the University, where he enjoys watching the ducks. In the park we try out all the playground equipment and play "little pig, little pig", where the pig always escapes down the slide followed closely by the wolf (usually me). We go ice skating, roller skating, sledding and hiking.
by Robert Park
At our Lake Wisconsin home we also go sledding or hiking in the woods with the dogs, and pick wild flowers, berries, black cherries and butternuts in season. Robin sometimes helps me collect firewood for the wood stove or move rocks from the front yard. One corner of the front yard serves as a sandbox where we make piles of sand and trails with colored stones. I had a pup tent set up for him there for a while. He likes to ride his tricycle around in circles on the patio and throw the frisbee to me from there. 0ccasionally we go swimming, sometimes with Casey and her friend Tammy who lives on the lakefront.
We do similar outdoor activities around the Iowa County farm, where in the past we have also gone on long bicycle rides, with Robin in a child seat behind me. He likes to stop at Prof. Hansen's nearby farm to see the donkey, horse and geese and climb the lookout tower, and sometimes we drive 4 miles to Hyde to see the water wheel at the old mill. Vacation trips to Minneapolis, etc., and Prairie Society outings provide other opportunities for outdoor activities. Robin also likes to help Barbara in the garden and to climb on things, piles of snow or sand, cars, trees, ladders, etc.
In the car we play "guess which card," sing songs or listen to tapes on the portable tape recorder. Sometimes I take Robin to visit friends, including Greg (an adult), Rebecca, Kenny and Craig, Desiree, and Anna and Greg (all children).
Indoor activities include a number of make-believe games we play at home. In "puppy dog" Robin pretends he is a puppy crawling under our bedspread until he reaches the top and is discovered. In "lumpy chair" he hurries to wherever I try to sit down and becomes a lump which makes me decide to try another chair. In "sea monster" my reclining chair becomes a boat and the space between the chair and footrest becomes a hole in the boat's bottom through which an endless stream of sea monsters (Robin) appear, to be thrown overboard. In "very darkness" we turn off all the lights and together explore the jungle with our flashlight(s), discovering various creatures (a maximum of two dogs and three cats) all of whom we find are friendly or harmless. In "frog and fly" the couch's footstool becomes a lily pad from which the frog catches the guileless fly. Somehow the fly always manages to escape after something which looks a lot like hugs and kisses. We take turns playing the parts. "Tea party" is a variation in which the frog has the fly in for tea. Barbara also plays the last two games with Robin. When Robin was smaller we used to play "rumble mountain" in which my legs were a mountain which began to rumble, causing Robin to tumble off.
Other active indoor games which Robin enjoys are throwing the ball for Princess (one of the dogs), throwing his flying ring to me, tag, chase the cat, and hide and seek.
Robin also enjoys taking pretend movies and pretend photographs, and occasionally he helps me take a real photograph. He can play "Twinkle twinkle little star" on the piano or miniorgan and sometimes likes to strum Barbara's guitar or ukulele. He enjoys listening to records and tapes and making his own tape recordings. He likes building a house from couch cushions, a card table and a bedspread and then inviting us into it. He sometimes asks to play various card games and box games, and there are assorted car and train sets, a garage, a school house and an airport he enjoys getting out. He also likes painting, coloring and playing with Play Doh, his Etch a Sketch and his magnetic and Leapin Letters. One of his favorite things lately has been filling designs on the Lite Brite. Sometimes Barbara or I help. As an after supper treat we sometimes toast marshmallows at the Franklin fireplace. We also have several kinds of building toys which he enjoys.
Barbara and I both sometimes read Robin books in addition to his regular bedtime stories. I just finished reading him Rabbit Hill, which my father read to the family when I was a boy. Barbara, and sometimes her daughter Casey, are involved with Robin and me in various of the above activities from time to time, especially hiking and singing in the car and Prairie Society outings. Casey likes to dance with Robin, which he finds very exciting. Robin sometimes asks to help me or Barb vacuum and he likes to help Barb in the kitchen, especially when ingredients are being mixed for something to bake in the oven. He also likes to help with the dishes, but we haven't encouraged this much.
Other regular activities which Robin and I share are watching Sesame street on TV on Saturday and Sunday morning and Sunday morning bath and shampoo while everyone else sleeps in. And then there is the nightly bedtime ritual, including his medicine, tooth brushing, diapers, story book and being tucked into bed with a good night kiss. At one point he protested "No kisses," so I had to take my kiss back with something I invented on the spot, an unkiss (the same but with a different sound) which he enjoyed. After a few nights of unkisses the protests stopped.