Guest Columnist Rachael Workman: Grateful for Luna Greenwood's playroom at Hadley Library

As we wrap up another tough year, I took stock of the people and places that made life possible, and even joyful, in 2021. I can’t do thi...

As we wrap up another tough year, I took stock of the people and places that made life possible, and even joyful, in 2021. I can’t do this without taking my hat off to Luna Greenwood, who is responsible for the children’s playroom at the new Hadley Public Library.

I moved to Northampton this year with my husband and two small children after an extended stay in Israel. There we had become accustomed to an abundance of family public space. We assumed this was true in most places, so after a few months in town we were surprised to find ourselves spending long days with two small children, without much company and with few options to know where to go to find it.

When the sunset recently crept north of 5pm, I saw our options dwindle even more. I envisioned a dark season ahead of us as a family: evenings stretching too long in our undersized apartment, bringing out the worst of the four of us. I finally conveyed my frustration to the Northampton Parents Facebook Group: “What are you doing with your kids all winter?” ! Let me go into the secret, ”I pleaded. The response has been overwhelming.

“We are passing through Thornes,” said one parent voluntarily.

“No secret,” said another. “You just have to bring bedtime forward. “

“I wish there was a secret!” One wrote. “I will say, however, that it makes summer more special.”

I understand that we are going through a seemingly endless pandemic, but we have a five month winter here; where are the landing zones for parents with young children that are free / inexpensive, safe and open for more than a handful of hours per week? Bonus points if they can be somewhat spiritually uplifting. That eliminates, with all due respect, the berthing at FunZ Trampoline Park in Westfield, or the intensely plastic Billy Beez at Ingleside Mall. (Don’t get me wrong my kids love both places, but I recently ran into a parent in my daughter’s class at this last one, and while we were chasing our little ones the wrong way around on a 40ft slide , we exchanged looks of shriveled desperation.)

Assuming we don’t feel like walking 20 minutes on Route 91: should I take my kids through Thornes – spending $ 45 under duress on bath toys, hot chocolates and ongoing Pez dispensers drive – to close the gap between school bus service at bedtime? Is this the best we can do for parents of young children? For the children themselves? (Note: Thornes: You are iconic. It’s not you, it’s us.)

So that’s all to say: I was delighted – and truly touched – when I stumbled upon the new Hadley Library playroom. It’s a space that, while modest in its proportions, is heartfelt, highly vibrating, and inviting – a natural extension of its own grand chef, the delicious and adorable Luna Greenwood. It’s full of baby books and dolls, musical instruments, train sets, soft climbers, and gross motor toys. It’s colorful, with huge windows, high ceilings, and comfy seating – and guys, it’s open late.

On my very first visit to the playroom it was a Friday morning and was overflowing with children and caregivers. Luna noticed us, the new arrivals, and came over to chat. She told me how difficult it was to get her vision to cross the finish line and convince the board that this game room was needed. “They wanted to turn it into a children’s reading room! she said incredulously. “I was like ‘Noooo way; the game must take place here! And you know what else I fought for? I insisted! I said: people must be able to bring food and drink inside! I mean don’t people understand how much parents need their coffee? “

Luna for the president.

Luna has teenage twins and is removed for many years from the unique challenges of young children, but she functions like someone who hasn’t forgotten. As we go through the scorching days of this pandemic, with our masks up and our spirits down, we need places like this on a soul level. A safe and fun indoor space; just a pure-hearted offering that allows kids to engage with other kids, and parents to exhale, chat and share a laugh.

Thank you Luna, for helping us through our first winter in Western Mass. I want to encourage everyone to go and make joyful use of this sweet and intentional space that she has created. I promise this will give you and your children a boost.

Rachael Workman lives in Northampton.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Guest Columnist Rachael Workman: Grateful for Luna Greenwood's playroom at Hadley Library
Guest Columnist Rachael Workman: Grateful for Luna Greenwood's playroom at Hadley Library
Newsrust - US Top News
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