Tornado Ali

The 9-year-old swimming lesson was going swimmingly. My daughter (so I’m told by my wife) was working on her breast stroke and my 3-year-old twins were busy on the nearby playground.

Life was almost peaceful.

Then, out of the corner of her eye, my wife saw a one-year-old toddler dash from the playground slide straight to the pool edge. My wife jumped to her feet, took two quick steps, intent on intercepting the speeding child, when, seemingly out of nowhere, the girl’s mother swooped in, scooped her up and returned her to the playground.

My wife started to talk with the young mother, when another flash caught her eye.

The same girl had dashed to the side of the concession stand and was crawling up on a nearby picnic table, intent on pulling the fire alarm.

Again, the young mom sped over, scooped her up and returned her to the playground.

My wife just laughed the laugh of one who has been there.

Again, she tried to talk with the young mom, but Tornado Ali (the girl’s nickname) was twisting off in yet another direction, this time bent on trying to climb up and slide down the pool’s water slide--the one that emptied into the deep-end, although for a girl her size, there really was no shallow end.

The young mom, still a marvel of patience and positivity, evidently decided it was time to change tactics. So she plopped Tornado Ali down at the picnic table next to my wife and started appeasing her with food and drink.

It worked. For a while.

My wife and the young mom were able to have a pleasant conversation, comparing notes of all the funny (at least in hindsight) things Tornado Ali and our twins had done. They were comrades-in-arms--sharing secrets and strategies and enjoying the company of somebody who truly understood the struggles of being “Mom.”

Why is this important? Because we decided to take that same approach to this month’s issue.

Inside, you’ll find a feature story “Days of our Parks & Rec Lives,” page 12, in which your peers share what they’d do in their agency if “money wasn’t and issue” as well as show how to run creative/successful programs. But, the funniest--and most telling--part of the story deals with responses to the question, “What’s the strangest/funniest thing a patron has ever said to you?”

I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but make sure you check out the responses on page 16 under “Ain’t That The Truth.” You’re guaranteed to laugh (or cringe).

Of course, we’ve got all the other bases covered. Randy Gaddo writes of the phone call he received from John H. Davis--a legend in our industry. Ron Ciancutti writes about the importance of fathers in kids’ lives. Silvana Clark writes about her experience on reality TV--and what it means for your day-to-day job. Fred Engh writes about one woman’s battle with Little League Baseball. And so much more. It’s a real smorgasbord. I hope you enjoy it.

Till next month…

Rodney J. Auth