The sun was shining, the leaves are turning, one simply cannot waste such an afternoon. The boys did their reading, then off to the park! woo-hoo!
Usually, the park is a mixed success. Andy finds himself some friends, runs around, and has a grand time. Joey prefer to walk in circuits, look at the babies, and wander up to people at random and try to talk with them.
As an interesting side note, I can tell a lot about people by watching how they react to Joey. Some folks play right in. Some smile and try to participate. Some tolerate. Some shun. Some even get nasty. The gauge has yet to be wrong, either.
Today was looking pretty typical. Andy found some kids about his age, and starting running about with them, letting the slightly younger ones join in. He's good at that. They spent the afternoon playing Star Wars all over the park. Andy looked a bit like the Pied Piper, as he apparently was the leader of the battles; so everybody was running after him (and he's a head taller than all of the others, even the ones his own age).
Joey found the babies. One of the families questioned why he was in that area of the playground since he was "clearly older than five." (So are you, dude. It isn't like Joey is blocking your kid from playing on anything, or bouncing on the spring animals. He's trying to play with your kid.) Joey picked up on the nasty right away, and gravitated towards a couple other babies with nicer parents.
And then it happened. A group of four kids appeared; they looked about Joey's age. Two girls, two boys. They looked so much alike, they must either be related (siblings? cousins?) or see a lot of each other. A clique, coming to have fun in the fall sun. Joey noticed them right away, and pulled himself away from the little ones to go check them out.
He didn't directly approach them at once. He found a stick, and wandered over to that section of the playground, the one with the bigger slides and the new seesaws. He walked about the area for a while, seeming absorbed in his stick, writing in the air, making a careful circuit. But I realized he was checking those kids out. I wondered how much he really saw in his peripheral vision; I suspect he was using it heavily to observe this interesting little group. How to approach them? What to say? What to do?
They didn't wait. One of the girls called him over. One of the boys recognized him. They asked him to play- to get on the seesaw with them, help them take turns. They even had him help one of the girls, who was skittish about the seesaw; he kept the boy on the other end from taking her too high, and he patted her hand. And when it was time to go home and get dinner? They gave him high-fives, and told them they were glad to see him.
They were glad to see him, happy to include him, the one girl said she was happy to meet him, and hoped to see him again soon. He was beaming. So was I.
I can tell a lot about people, by how they treat Joey. We so did not want to ever, ever leave.