Backyard Bounty

During these covid 19 days parents are struggling to keep their kids busy and involved. After three months inside, just about all the entertainment ideas have dried up. Board games, lego-building, painting, playdough; all of them are losing their allure. The situation seemed desperate; until recently.

Summer is here and everyone with a back yard has moved outside. When my husband Peter and I lived in the country, all our neighbours were miles away, well almost. We didn’t see people out in their back yards unless we had our binoculars handy. But here in the city, our back yard abuts two houses with young children, so we can watch them as they spend time playing outdoors.

The two families have little boys, Hudson and Thomas, both about 4 years old. Because of the pandemic germs, neither family is comfortable having the boys play together. Instead, they play side by side, watching and often copying each other’s games. At first little athletes emerged. Hudson fancied himself another José Bautista as he swung his small bat at a rubber ball, trying to hit it “out of the park.” He also showed some Tiger Woods promise with his little set of golf clubs. Thomas, on the other hand, ran around tossing balls into his short basketball hoop and yelling “I am Kyle Lowry!”

After a couple of weeks of sports heroism, the little athletes grew tired of summer training camp and began to whine. It was time for something new. Hudson got a bright green climbing gym, backyard size. After a few jealous tears, Thomas found a large box in his back yard. The anticipation was high as Daddy slowly opened the box and pulled out the pieces. He assembled a round platform, then sat down for a rest. The next day some poles were erected, followed by a roof and netting sides. Gradually the form emerged – a trampoline! Thomas jumped for joy. When he noticed me watching, he explained that there was a lock on the netting doorway – to keep out any stray squirrels that might be tempted to sneak in for a quick somersault.

When the weather warmed up, both families felt the need for water features. They bought small plastic pools and filled them from their hoses. The kids splashed around, playing with tiny boats and squealing with delight. Then they noticed small puddles forming around the pools. Out came the dump trucks, and backyard construction sites emerged. A few riding toys were added to the fleets.

Then the parents got into the act. Thomas’s parents bought new outdoor furniture – comfy chairs and a coffee table. Hudson’s parents went for the natural look and ordered cedar trees, and a couple of decorative hydrangea bushes. They added a wooden bench for seating and some small pots of impatiens for a splash of colour.

By now both back yards were getting pretty full! There was barely space to move. Maybe the buying spree would be over. I started listening in on some of the conversations. (Yes, during the pandemic I have sunk to a new low – eavesdropping on little kids). “Tickle me some more Daddy!” “I’m hiding now. When are you coming to find me?” “Mommy can you help me make some mud pies?”

I realized that, no matter how many toys parents buy, the best entertainment for kids is still time spent with mom and dad. It’s a valuable pandemic lesson.


PS Happy Fathers’ Day to all those dedicated dads.

4 thoughts on “Backyard Bounty

  1. I reclaimed all the board games I got my class this year as next year they probably won’t be able to use them. Now as we have dinner we also play headbandz. Other board games include battkeship, connect 4, monopoly junior and sequence. I’m kind of busy all the time having to be on my computer but when I’m not I try to go on walks with my kids and play board games.

    Gavin doesn’t use the trampoline hardly at all unless I’m there with him. Its not fun to bounce alone.


  2. Great story today. My hat goes off to parents during this pandemic. Not easy for young families.
    Glad these families are keeping you entertained!


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