By Friday, Jamie Palmer's three girls – and to a certain extent, probably, herself – were getting a little stir crazy.
Because of Presidents Day and Monday and inclement weather Wednesday morning, there hadn't been Toddler Town at Independence's Sermon Center this week.
Designed for children ages 5 and younger, Toddler Town is small play structures, riding toys, building blocks and mats and even a small ball pit set up on the gym floor at the Sermon Center – in effect, a giant playroom.
The Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department has hosted Toddler Town for several years. It runs during the fall and winter months, most times three mornings a week and as long as Independence Schools are not canceled. The fee is $1 per child per visit. Parents/grandparents/guardians are required to watch or remain with their children.
Many other parents apparently had the same idea as Palmer. Sermon Center assistant Cheryl Wrisinger estimated about 50 children crawled and scattered around the various setups around the gym Friday. Normally, it would be half that, she said.
“We try to come here all three days if we can,” Palmer said while watching daughters Beatrice, 5, Estelle, 3, and Mabel Grace, 1. “This thing is great, to get the kids out and run around and be social.
“We moved here in October and found this. My girls really enjoy it, they have some game they play where they gather foam blocks, I think they call it 'Mystery.'”
Yes, at times a child might start to tear up (only to be quickly comforted and back to normal, of course), but many adults agree with Palmer that they don't see outright confrontations. The worst thing Palmer saw was a stack of Lego-like blocks toppled over near her youngest – nudged by another unknowing child. With parents/guardians close by if not directly playing with their child, supervision is not an issue.
“They've got a great thing going on here,” Palmer said.
A few minutes later, one of her daughters started to appear tired, but that simply shows another potential benefit of Toddler Town.
“They'll be ready for a nap,” she said.
There are two more sessions of Toddler Town – Monday and Wednesday next week. In the summer, Parks, Recreation and Tourism has had Toddler Town on Tour, a free weekly program at various playgrounds around Independence.