It was Fatherâ€™s Day â€“ an extraordinary summer day in Fargo-Moorhead if you happened to miss it â€“ and my husband and I were looking for something fun to do with our 15-month-old twin boys.
We couldnâ€™t stand the thought of sitting inside the toy-cluttered house while the world around us frolicked in the sun. And since we donâ€™t own a lake place or have family or friends who do (weâ€™re an anomaly, I know), we found ourselves having the same conversation weâ€™ve been having the last four weeks or so.
What should we do today?
So, like almost every other Sunday of late, we coerced the boys into the minivan (they arenâ€™t a big fan of car seats these days), and headed for the zoo.
I love the zoo. Always have. But as our luck has had it on recent trips, pretty much all of the animals were fast asleep in the shade. As we were leaving, I realized the only animals we really saw out and about (other than birds, which donâ€™t really count) were the farm animals. The boys seemed to like them â€“ especially when one of the horses stuck its face down by their stroller (frightening for me, but nevertheless exciting for them). Still, I have to say I left feeling a little bummed.
Itâ€™s not the zooâ€™s fault. They seem to be doing all they can with the resources they have. I applaud their hard work and support it, but I have to wonder, is that the best we can do?
Iâ€™m talking to you, Fargo-Moorhead.
For a city that touts itself as a great place to raise kids, I have to say we come up a little short in the cool-stuff-to-do-with-your-kids department. For a community this size, we should have more or at least bigger. Looking around, Iâ€™d say we cater more to the business man than to the bustling mom.
Iâ€™m not trying to pick on Fargo. I love this community, which is why I think discussion on this topic is good. Still, Iâ€™m sure many of you reading this are making mental lists of all the things there are to do with your kids so you can fire back at me. I know, I know. There are places to go. Iâ€™ve been to most of them actually. That isnâ€™t really my argument, though.
My point: What if we really put our heads to work as a community and dreamed bigger â€¦ what if Fargo-Moorhead had a true family attraction capable of drawing people from all over the region. Iâ€™m thinking a really cool aquarium with elements for kids and adults, or a big water park/ amusement park with things for wee kids and big kids, too. Or what Iâ€™d really love is a full-sized childrenâ€™s museum with state-of-the-art exhibits that changed from time to time and provided an interactive experience every time.
I brought this idea up with a group people when I got to work Monday. Several â€“ even one or two without kids â€“ agreed with me. One called me â€œhigh maintenance.â€ Thatâ€™s fine. Iâ€™ll take that jab. I explained that I didnâ€™t think it was too much to ask that family friendly attractions also be interesting enough to hold an adultâ€™s attention.
Another co-worker joked that my kids have really high standards. No. Theyâ€™re 1. Theyâ€™re fine with a horse in their face. But, I explained that I have high standards for them and their future social and intellectual development. I donâ€™t want to have to drive them to Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, or even my much-smaller hometown of Watertown, S.D. (which supports an ever-expanding zoo and an awesome water park) for a top-notch Sunday adventure.
I will say, though, Iâ€™m excited to see where this idea of an indoor, year-round playground in Fargo will go. It seems like the Park District is fairly serious about the idea, as was reported in this newspaper a few weeks back. That would be a good start. And I know other such ideas, including a year-round aquatics park, have been discussed before but always seem to fizzle out.
So I donâ€™t know. Maybe Iâ€™m alone here. Maybe I am just a high-maintenance mom. But whatâ€™s so wrong with thinking big?
I’m curious what you think.