children on the playground


"Hi. I'm Archer, what's your name?" he asks the first boy he sees at the playground. He's fearless when it comes to making friends. Meeting new people. The park is for playmates. So he immediately finds his.

"Want to play with me?"

"Yes."

So they run along, howling, grabbing, kicking up sand. Chasing after each other they are oblivious to their differences, of first language, race and family income. Of height and weight, politics, religion. There is no cultural divide. No preconceptions. Judgment. No isms.

A little girl watches them chase each other. She leans against the swings as they dash across the playground, until they ask if she wants to play too.

The girl nods her head.

"We're playing hide and seek. Want to hide?"

"Yes," she says joining them.

And so they go running off, the three of them. Until they become four and five and six and seven. Until they are eight children darting up slides and down poles, hanging from monkey bars, pushing each other on swings, best friends who moments earlier were complete strangers. Who moments from now, will go home to different neighborhoods. Say goodbye and likely never see each other again.

And then I look around at us: the parents. All of us segregated, separate, mismatched shoes with laces untied, pretending not to notice that our children have become playmates who hold hands.

For our children, it's what brings them together that matters most. The games they play and the numbers they count and who's turn it is to hide.

For us, we are too busy suspecting and comparing, drawing attention to all the things that differentiate us, until we stand alone and inhibited, mumbling to ourselves against the chain-link fence.

But why?
Because we speak different languages.
Because we come from different worlds.
And different sides of Western Avenue.
Because it's dangerous to cross the railroad tracks.


So many reasons we have.
All of them are wrong.
Just ask our children.

GGC

55 comments:

WarsawMommy | 12:37 AM

Beautiful. This is something I've often thoght whilst watching my son in the sandbox, sharing shovels and pails and toys. Thankfully most of the time, the other kids' parents are eager to talk and laugh and get to know me. I'm a Canadian in Poland, you see, so I suspect I have a certain 'wow!' factor and many are curious about how I got here, and how I speak Polish, and does Max speak English.

It's a connection, and I really like it. But it never feels as easy and natural as it does for my son. Kids just 'do it'; we adults have much to learn about relaxed and trusting social interaction. Or maybe we just need to remember.

Danny | 1:42 AM

You write so beautiful, I have no words for it.
And yes, you are right.
We can only hope our kids keep a shard of their thoughts and attitude and dreams and don't become like.. us.

Or maybe that's not entirely true. Let's hope they don't become like us in that aspect. Others, I hope they do turn out a bit like us.

Anonymous | 1:56 AM

oh, your words are always so true!

Nili | 3:53 AM

How right you are...how right our children are...don't you wish we could un-learn things.

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Jaimes | 5:02 AM

Very moving post. That was totally my experience as a mom in my hometown. When I first moved from Virginia to Atlanta, I took my kids to our neighborhood playground daily, and I kept to myself as usual. But people here are very friendly and would just start talking to me. I was shocked by their friendliness, but welcomed it. I'm still getting used to it because where I'm from people are very guarded. I feel like our little playground is an oasis where moms, dads, grandparents, and nannies all chit-chat in the Georgia sunshine.

Elena from Greece | 5:18 AM

the age of innocense. great to live that again through our children't lives...
fantastic post

M. | 5:19 AM

I love your more literary posts like this one. You have such a talent!

Frosty | 5:26 AM

Your observations of our world are always heart-breakingly beautiful, even when I wish they weren't true. I admire your honesty and the way you seem to write without fear.

julie forkner | 5:58 AM

I love this. I know the exact feeling you've described. I dread the park because of the parents, not the children. You're so right about looking to our children for guidance on interaction. SO right.

Ailen | 6:01 AM

Beautiful! The world would be a better place if we all tried to act a little bit more like children.

Maura | 6:10 AM

What a beautiful post!!

Shangrila | 6:37 AM

God, Becca-this is beautiful. I remember the awe that I felt when my (caucasian) daughter came home from school and asked me to make her hair "tight". I think she was maybe 7. I asked, "What do you mean, 'tight'?" "You know," she said, "like the brown girls wear their hair." I gently explained that her nearly straight, silky hair wouldn't hold that hairstyle. Undeterred, she came back the next afternoon with instructions from her little friend on how to achieve the desired doo. I was in awe that not only did she truly not seem to see the differences between herself and someone of another race, she didn't even know the term 'African American' yet. I shouldn't have been so amazed-she'd already taught me so much by then, but I was. She is older now (11), but still seems relatively oblivious to all of the things that keep adults from reaching out to people that are "different". I think that our children's generation may be, has the first real chance at being, for lack of a better term "color-blind." And it's a beautiful thing.

Lauren Knight | 6:37 AM

Beautiful. And so true. I love your perspective on life.

Only A Girl | 6:55 AM

Yep.

Loukia | 7:09 AM

So, so true. Children do not judge eachother at all. We could all learn something from our children, huh? Every single day. For me, though, it's more because I'm shy - I won't just go up to a parent and start a conversation. I see shyness in my 4 year old, too - at school, even -and I wish there was something I could do to make him come out of his shell even more - like his 2 year old brother, who is totally social with everybody. But then again, I love their differences. Anyway - I have totally gone 'off the tracks' here, haven't I?

The Panic Room | 7:12 AM

awesome.

If you were at our park though, you would be badgered by Cole and I, because we are those parents, that say hi. Not because we are sweet people, and love strangers. It started because we had to explain what was up with LB and his strange ways, and why he doesn't speak, and so now we just talk to everybody. Just one more way that LB has made both Cole and I better people.

BTW I wrote about a subject that your blog helped us battle. I read your entry to Cole 3 weeks ago when we were suffering from no sleep. We took our bed back. It feels great.

Steph | 7:40 AM

we could learn a lot from their untarnished, nonjudgmental, innocent minds...great post :)

keight dukes | 7:52 AM

i feel like i should have had to pay money to read this

SmartBear | 7:57 AM

Love this post and it is so true. I am confused so many times when adults are so cruel and dismissive while the children can be so accepting and tolerant.

andygirl | 8:36 AM

I think I actually teared up a bit! That was beautiful. And right.

AlexisBecks | 8:43 AM

When we are adult evrything seems so difficult sometimes. Sometimes u need to borrow those *innocent kids eyes* and look at life in their way, in the way we once used to look at life.

freckletree. | 8:52 AM

loves. these. photos.

interesting how we learn to fear each other. how we learn to recognize and hate people for being different.

my advice: next time you are at the playground, you should run up to the first stranger you see, grab their hand and ask them to play hide and seek with you.

Habbala | 8:59 AM

You did it again. Your writing gives me goose bumps ALL. THE. TIME.

Thank you.

Shalyn | 9:20 AM

I Loved this post, you have a way with words :)

Mama Cas | 9:31 AM

All too true. We can learn so much from our fearless children.

Shelly | 10:07 AM

What a beautiful post, and so true.

leel | 11:19 AM

children are such amazing examples of how we can be to one another as adults. i think we should all play more, and stop standing around judging. great, great post!

Josie Maran | 11:23 AM

perfect

Glenda | 11:56 AM

Beautiful post! You have a way with words. Any chance on another book?

k5brown | 12:33 PM

Archer is just so cute!

As a second grade teacher I can tell you that children really are pure of heart in this regard. I just read the story of Ruby Bridges today and it always opens the way for such an insightful discussion. They "get it" on a level we surely don't.

I just started your book, by the way. And I'm LOVING it!

Mary@Holy Mackerel | 1:57 PM

So so very true, and I've often thought this same thing myself. Our children should be our world's leaders. Everyone would be happier.

terri | 3:46 PM

this was so lovely. and before you even got to the paragraph about the parents i had a vision of myself at the playground at my spot watching---and there you wrote it---that we parents don't mix---that's lame. thanks for your writing. it's lovely.

jessica | 3:51 PM

it is a beautiful post and a beautiful thought but there is also that one little thing: i don't like people hahaha! I am not big on small talk and would much rather look through emails on my phone than talk to someone about what kind of cabinets they're having put it. maybe i'm just antisocial.

SassyShirl | 4:15 PM

You are so right... why can't we be more like children... we would be happier :)

SoccerMOM | 6:11 PM

So true. You said it well.

LR | 7:28 PM

You've been writing a lot more lately. This makes me warm and fuzzy. xo

vivvily | 9:39 PM

I love this post.

Ray | 11:41 PM

Wonderful entry. You are so right Rebecca. The kids have it all figured out. ;o)

Ray | 11:42 PM

Wonderful entry. You are so right Rebecca. The kids have it all figured out. ;o)

DieDoro | 1:32 AM

Tears streaming down my face as I read this und think of how I wish I could get my son immediately from Kindergarten (not that I don`t relish these five hours...) to get some hugs and more of his children`s-eyes-input. I love your post! Thanks for that!

Gini | 6:06 AM

So true. Sometimes I want to be a kid all over again.

Erin | 8:49 AM

I love this.

Sadie at heyMamas | 8:56 AM

I love this and this is what makes children so beautiful. I wish I could bottle that innocence and keep it forever. Everything they become is what we teach them....scary!!!

Rita Arens | 12:28 PM

This is so good it made my whole day.

Meghan Elaine | 8:29 AM

I love this post. My kids are only 11 months so we are just starting to interact with other moms/kids. It is so goofy how we moms talk to each other through our kids. Like we can't talk directly. Weird. I'm working on it.

Christina | 6:39 PM

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Great post!

Bobbi Janay @When did I go from a kid to a grown up? | 8:28 AM

I miss those days of it didn't matter who or what they were just automatic friends.

Miss Kris | 2:05 PM

I talk to other parents at the playground all the time and other parents start conversations with me. It's the norm around here (Seattle). You should start a new trend in L.A. and start talking to other parents at the playground. You will always have something in common to talk about - your kids!

Diandra | 3:45 PM

I enjoyed this post, and believe that children can show us good, thoughtful ways to become better adults.

But, in counterpoint, I enjoy watching my children make friends, have fun, and simply be a kid for a few blissful hours- without parental intervention. It's my break as much as it is theirs... I'd rather people watch then chat with the people I'm watching. Be blissed out that I can have some alone time. I do believe that this also factors into playground time.

Daily Cup of Jo | 8:08 AM

I'm sad that what you write is true, for the most part. I, on the other hand, am often the child and my kids have taken to being cautious while I try to strike up a conversation with another parent because I NEED SOMEONE TO TALK TO. My children are at the age where they're not quite innocent enough anymore to make strangers their friends, and it kinda breaks my heart. GREAT writing. Beautiful post.

Brandy | 10:18 AM

What a beautiful post. I grew up in a world where, unfortunately, I was taught at a young age to identify the differences that set us apart. I only learned not to care about these things as I grew up and opened my mind to the idea that we are all the same underneath our skin. And I'm doing my damnedest to make sure my little ones know that. What would keep me separate at that park now would be my shyness more than anything else. My 2 year old is in a preschool program and I was ecstatic to see that there is quite a bit of diversity in her class. To her a friend is a friend is a friend...the more the better. I hope she is always able to retain that.

beautiful life | 2:29 PM

I''m commenting over here, because I hate the fact that I HAVE TO sign in to comment on Momversation. But I'm commenting about the finances/friends blip. This something I have dealt with for many years--- I wasn't on the internet fifteen years ago, but I felt it.. I was so broke I could not afford to take my daughter to McDonalds for a hamburger. Fast forward to my first blog, 2004. I blogged about it. One of my first topics (too bad I deleted the evidence.) It's a painful, real issue. You are not at all alone. And trust me, if we met, I'd be the loser. It's all comparative.
That said, when your children are older, you will have a little more money or at least a little more time to be creative with your money. My oldest is 17, youngest
5. Dates are still rare, but we have a free sitter so we can afford a 25 dollar plate (Yah, I know, in LA that's not much.)
We have the smallet house of any of our friends.The leas money, too. But what we have is ours and we are lucky enough to know how lucky we are.

XOXO

Greenmom500 | 9:12 AM

So true. I often wish we adults could make friends so easily as our children. Wouldn't it be wonderful if life was as simple as just playing in the sandbox with a new friend?!

baby&sofia | 2:41 PM

I love this. As cliche' as it sounds, we can learn so much from our children. If only it were so easy for adults to form friendships. My husband and I moved to southern California in the summer of 2008, and have had a difficult time making friends. We have slowly progressed in creating some meaningful friendships with a few other families, but it has not been easy. If only it were as simple as walking up and saying "hello."

Amanda {Mocking Bird} | 11:41 PM

Just found your blog and this post was amazing.
Love finding a blog that has me reading every post with a smile on my face.