The 11th Park Tribe: The Archaeologists

Boys of Summer_05202014

“Bring on the summer,” they say.

This group of boys is so adorable, and this is just a few. There’s really a whole slew of them, ranging in age from 3 (Dan included) to 10. They gather at our local park after school, and yes, there are girls in the group as well.

A few of the kids have recently begun migrating into the backyard of a friend of ours, that happens to have this hammock and a really cool treehouse.

This is where it gets just too cute: Their latest game is that some of them have assigned themselves ‘tribes.’ Joshua spent about 30 minutes after school, the other day, creating “ID cards” for each kid in his tribe. He got so upset yesterday when I pushed the black stroller to school to pick them up, rather than the yellow stroller.

“What!  Moooom,” he mumbled, with devastation written all over his face, “I had put the ID cards for our tribe in the yellow  stroller, so I could get them after school, and you brought the wrong stroller!”

He looked so crushed that I just felt terrible, but the thing was that Alan was home with the baby, so I had not needed the double stroller (yellow), so I had pushed the black (single), for Daniel to ride in.

Don’t worry, ya’ll, I will make absolutely sure those ID cards get to Joshua on Monday after school.

Joshua and Caleb are both members of the 11th Tribe. Joshua says, “We are the “Archaeologist Tribe, because we have found the most stuff at the park, especially glass. We find a lot of broken glass, but also like old bottles and bricks and sticks and stuff.”

Ah,  broken glass, just what we were all hoping our children were playing with…

Aren’t they just PRECIOUS! I just love this, I mean not the broken glass, but the way they are running and playing freely in the outdoors.  I feel like the best thing I do each week is getting these boys to the park after school, where they run free and make friends with the trees, the dirt, and even sometimes the snakes….

The whole group is notorious for how they are always running around with sticks, and yet I can assure you there have been very few true injuries. Sometimes there are whole wars back there, where they play their own version of “capture the flag”, and I love how the big and small children all seem to mingle just fine.

Are there fights? Only occasionally. Are there hurt feelings? Of course,  that happens, but that will happen their whole life, so they might as well learn to work that out now. One day, last week, I saw Caleb making a beeline, crying, towards the ‘mom area.’ I set out to meet him halfway, concerned as any mom would be. Neither of my boys are big whiners or “tattlers,” so I was  worried. Then I saw two of his friends chasing him down and talking to him, and suddenly, he turned around and headed back to their thicket of trees with them. Only by then, I had caught up, so I wanted to know what was going on.  One little boy said, “I let go of a little tree and accidentally hit Caleb in the face, but it was an accident!”

The much offended Caleb, still smarting in the face a bit, had already decided to forgive and move on, and my intervention was not needed.

Poison ivy and ticks have happened a few times too, though Joshua, Caleb, and Daniel have miraculously dodged those bullets for now, and while I’m not saying those things are good in and of themselves, I do think it’s an acceptable part of childhood.  I love that here in my neighborhood, growing up doesn’t have to look so very different than it did 20 years ago. That’s right. It isn’t just about video games and cartoons. The kids here are very much still exploring the great outdoors.

The moms are there at the park too. We just all hang together on the shaded concrete cylindrical benches.

You can see the benches in the background of this photo, taken at Joshua’s birthday party at the park, last fall.

We sit and talk while our kids run around like wild Indians, and it’s just an amazing and beautiful thing. I love it. It’s very good for our mental conditions. I’ve never felt lonely here–except during those cold spells where no one goes outside–and that’s because we “Park Moms” are just as important of a social network as our 11 tribes of children are to each other!

Oh, and apparently the ‘Archaeologists’ also have a slang name for their tribe: “the tall tribe”, because many of them are the tallest kids at the park.  That sounds about right.

There’s also a large group of boys that like to play football at the park. I guess Joshua’s group would call them the “football tribe.” I asked him what the other tribes are called, but he says he really only knows his group’s name.

So before you judge this little generation of city- school- boys too harshly, just remember that America still has plenty of stick-carrying, glass-collecting, tree-climbing, park tribes out there!

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