Ah, the last weekend of summer 2007 is gone. It sounds poetic and dramatic but really for me, as I have long been out of school, summer doesn't really mean much. I don't have any extra days off, unless I take time off. I still have to go to work five days a week.
Originally, Wife wanted to go shopping in Crossing Mall way out in Pennsylvania, but luckily she changed her mind and wanted to go to Queens Center in Queens. This is not the Queens Center that I know from my years of living in its neighborhood, first in Elmhurst then in Woodhaven. The, to me, still new Queens Center doesn't occupy just one city block but instead stretch over a huge block, in addition to the original mall. Still, I always get a headache whenever I visited the mall. Perhaps it has to do with boredom or maybe the recycled air inside really does harm to one's head. It won't help if I keep my Son in the play area in the basement. I absolutely hate the play area anyway. It's too small relative to the mall's size and is way overcrowded. It is not well maintained and kids, big and small, would run all over. It's lawsuit haven, but the mall probably has a safety net clause somewhere.
It was a beautiful to be outside, so I only dropped Wife and her relatives at the mall then Son and I went to the park. In my years living in Woodhaven, I spent many morning commute in my father's taxi cab going from Woodhaven to the Williamsburg Bridge. Most of the time, Father drove along 80th Street, which has relatively less traffic than Woodhaven Boulevard. I passed by Juniper Park many times but since I didn't live in the area, never once visited it. Fast forward to the present, now I had an excuse to visit it, for my Son. First we visited Juniper South Playground and had ice cream from Mr. Softee. When Son was bored, I thought of driving to some other park along Woodhaven Boulevard, but instead happened upon the bigger Juniper North Playground. Son had some more fun running and climbing the newer playground structures, but we also watched a game bocce. At first I thought it was lawn bowling, but then learned that with bocce the bigger balls don't necessarily touch the small one (pallino). Son wanted to have a throw at it and I even casually asked one of the old man if Son could have a fling but the man turned me down. It's probably a tight-knit club that doesn't welcome outsiders.
Finally it was at around 3 that Son agreed to have lunch. Instead of the usual hustle of Queens Center's crowded food court, we enjoyed a nice meal at Andrew's Pizzeria on nearby Eliot Avenue. I had a Sicilian square while Son had spaghetti meatballs. All without having to fight for a table or having to deal with the overflowed trash containers at the mall.
With extra time on hand, I took Son to yet another playground, the Greenhouse Playground in Forest Park, Woodhaven. There wasn't much to do in Greenhouse Playground, other than watching some kids do stunts on skateboards and mountain bikes. I knew the Park has a working carousel but doubted that it would be open on the holiday. In fact, it was open and running, its music just not loud enough to reach far. Son rode on the thing three times, costing me a total of $4.50. He also had some snacks and drinks. The last activity of the day was to pretend to perform on Forest Park's Band Shell. I convinced Son to pretend playing a guitar with his newly bought inflatable hammer. There were a few other kids around so they played together. Then my cell phone ran and it was Wife et al, they were finally done with their shopping. Just in time, too, as a bunch of teenage kids started to swarm the Band Shell to practice jumping off the stage, without regards for all the little kids nearby.
It wasn't the typical way to end summer. I didn't have any BBQ or hang out with a bunch of people. But for me, avoiding an unpleasant stay in the mall and spending quality time my son was the kind of great time I like to have.