On our recent trip to London, we came across a park that was massive and fully gated, right in the middle of the city. After walking around and around trying to find a way in, we found the gate. The sign read, “Welcome to Coram’s Field Park. Adults May Only Enter If Accompanied By A Child.” What a cute gesture, I thought to myself. That will make the kids smile. Well, it turns out, is was not a sweet sign but a serious message.”No entry to over 16’s Unless Accompanied By a Child.” How did I know they meant business?
My Husband and I decided to get a work-out early one morning while the kids played at the park. During the time we were not by the kids side, not one, not two, but three adults that work on the grounds approached us to let us know this was not a place for unaccompanied grown-ups. We had to wave to our children and call out their names before the staff would leave us be. I was stunned and the kids were thrilled! They never felt so welcome!
Captain Thomas Coram was a philanthropist who opened the first orphanage in London in the mid 1700’s. The park is an homage to his work and to this day, in alignment with his vision. The park was a special place. Even the bathrooms were just for girls and boys. The sinks were low, the toilets were lower and the floors shined. I thought of how amazing it would be if more places celebrated kids in this way. To our surprise, we found London to be a city made for children.
The British Museum had a family desk with themed scavenger hunt booklets that led the kids on wild chases through history. The games led them purposefully up and down the many floors of what would have been a very overwhelming museum. The National Science Museum had an entire floor dedicated to kids hands-on experiments complete with shows on the hour about structures or explosives. Oh and I almost forgot, the National Museums are free for everyone!
Sunday we decided to explore the Royal Parks for a taste of family time in London. At Regent’s Park there was a kids only paddle-boat lake, complete with mini boats and a deserted island to explore. We even spotted a group of teenagers playing Quidditch! The boys could not believe their eyes. We headed to Hyde Park for the afternoon to have tea and play in Princess Diana’s Memorial playground, complete with a security gate and buzzer and a pirate ship to rival Jack Sparrow.
As Khalil Gibran says, “Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.”
Thank you London for bowing to my children. They are forever changed by your act of honoring them!