Hey Kids! is a weekly feature looking at what’s coming up for families and kids of all ages.

A few weeks ago the NBER declared the recession over, but the New York Times says things are only going to get worse. Scary, but we’ve got the hatches battened down pretty tight around here, and it’s pretty easy to manage “no treats” or fewer toys with a toddler. It’s such a good teaching opportunity, too, an opportunity to explain that ice cream just isn’t as sweet if you have it everyday, that a sort of Buddhist sufficiency– everything in moderation, neither too little, nor too much– is the goal. My hope is that if he can internalize these ideas at a young age, he’ll avoid many of the consumerist pressures of our society, the pressure to keep up with the Jones-es. I guess that’s optimism, to a certain extent: I’m assuming this horrible economy won’t continue forever, that instead of worrying over paying the bills and buying groceries, he’ll have the luxury of trying to avoid greed and gluttony.

Blue Angels

This approach is a lot easier said than done, a lot different with a toddler than an older child, as I learned this weekend when my (older) nephew came to stay. Letting him help make the pizza, encouraging him to draw the airplanes after they flew, making lego sculptures of the rock formations we saw, and being allowed to take a few pictures with our camera seem to quell the “need” for buying souvenirs. But helping a child be present and enter into the experience can be a big challenge and a lot of work, and I’m not sure how much patience I have for it after a long day of work. So I’ve been thinking about another tactic: explaining the economics, sort of. That the more free stuff we do, the more we can afford a special, paid thing (saving up money). But also that free is just as good, it is a gift to us from the community, the city, and we need to give a gift back, by making a picture, singing a song, or helping someone else out. That we are in a circle, and if we keep giving, the good stuff will come back, one way or another, sooner or later.

Here’s hoping it works. Meanwhile, I, for one, am enjoying the pictures.

Favorite neighborhood “free” stuff

Monday mornings, drop by Parque Ninos for Los Tamborcitos, a free bilingual music class. Originally started by neighborhood parents with a grant from first five, this is now a donation-based program… they only have funding through this month, so now is a great time to stop by check it out and lend a few dollars.
Los Tamborcitos, Mondays, 10 – 10:30 a.m. and 10:30 – 11 a.m. Ages 0 to 5. Free. Parque Ninos Unidos, 23rd St. at Treat.

The first Tuesday of the month is free admission day at many of the museums in the city; especially good for kids are the Museum of Craft and Folk Art and the Museum of Cartoon Art.
List of Museum free days

Our lovely Mission Branch Library offers a number of free programs for kids of all ages. The Preschool storytime on Wednesdays (10:15) is our regular stop.
Mission Branch Library updates their activities and offerings on a monthly basis; stop by the library for a schedule or bookmark their blog

Paxton’s Gate is always a great diversion on a rainy (or sunny!) day, and on Thursdays there’s the added attraction of of a guest reader, and a special story.
Story time. Thursdays, 11 – 12. All ages. Free. Paxton’s Gate, 766 Valencia St at 18th.

Ahhh, Friday, the beginning of the weekend. Before kids, happy hour was a great way to wind down. Post-kids, Family Yoga has a lot greater appeal than I ever thought possible!
All Ages Yoga Club. Fridays, 5:30 – 6:30. Free. Reservations recommended; 452-7578 or jozaeta@ymcasf.org to RSVP. Mission YMCA, 4080 Mission St. at Alemany.

“Special” for this week

Walk-in Movies
Perfect for this crazy weather, Buena Vista is hosting an outdoor movie fundraiser (pixar/cartoon shorts) on their playground tonight.
Outdoor Movie Night. Friday, October 15. 6 – 8. All ages. Free; Taco truck and popcorn stand concession sales support the school. Buena Vista Alternative Elementary School, 2641 25th St at Utah.

Paper Animals at Paxton's Gate

Paper Animals at Paxton's Gate

Sugar Skulls
Just in time for Day of the Dead, Autumn Express is hosting a skull making and decorating workshop.
Sugar Skull Workshop. Friday, October 15 and 29. 5:30 – 6:30. Ages 2-18. $20, includes all decorations and two skulls to take home. Autumn Express, 2071 Mission Street at 17th.

Paper Animals at Paxton’s Gate
Learning to make a paper animal seems particularly appropriate for National Hispanic Heritage month– maybe it’s an update of traditional paper crafts, or a twist on pinatas.
Paper Sculptures with Courtney Cerruti. Saturday, October 16th, 2 – 4. All Ages. Free. Paxton’s Gate, 766 Valencia St at 18th.