Lessons from the playground
Published January 10th, 2008
It was a gorgeous day sunny day here today, so the kids and I took advantage of the sun and met up with friends at the playground down the street. I’ve noticed lately that I’m friendlier and more conversational with other adults when my kids aren’t around. In fact, when I spent the weekend alone at Women of Faith in November, I felt an old piece of me return – the piece that was friendly and chatty with sales clerks and service people and strangers in elevators – the piece of me that attempted to speak a little positive into people’s lives around me. Somehow while ping-ponging between two toddlers, I had forgotten that piece of me. When I’m going through check out lines I have a hard time even looking at the cashier as I try to wrestle all my groceries onto the belt, watch the prices as they ring up and make sure my kids don’t wiggle out of the cart, dump stuff off the shelves, or add more items to the cart. I usually just don’t have the presence of mind to be friendly.
I’ve been trying to remember what intentional friendliness is like and practice it again when I can. It strikes me most when I’m at the playground. There’s my three-year-old making friends and introducing herself (which boggles my mind) and there I am, bouncing back and forth keeping an eye on her, and chasing down a fearless one-year-old who thinks he can climb ladders and jump off stairs and go down slides on his knees. All boy. I usually manage a nod to the moms of Little Miss Sunshine’s new friends, but that’s about it.
Today was different. This particular playground is almost always empty when we go, which is why I like it. It’s main use is for a county after school program so school day mornings we have it to ourselves. Today another mom showed up with two kids and Little Miss started playing with her girl. I kept telling myself “I am going to introduce myself, I am going to introduce myself,” until the opportunity arose. I figured she lived nearby (and she did) and that our kids were close in age (they are), but the next item surprised me. She grew up as a military kid andÂ spent several years in high school on the same Asian island base that I was born on. Cool. Random. And cool. I got her number and I hope that we can get together on the playground more often since we both live about 1 mile from it. I took the step. Finally!