Monday, December 21, 2009

The Playground

Once a month I go to my son's elementary school to help out with lunch--no I'm not a lunch lady :) There are no hairnets or rubber gloves on when I go. The parents help out, its something nice that our school does, the are parent involved and lets the kids know the parents care. It's kind of fun actually.

I don't do anything super great, just get spoons and forks when they are needed. Say "Yes" when they ask to go to the bathroom, open up packages or milk if it's warranted.

But as I walk around the lunchroom, the different murmurs of children progressively becomes louder as they combine together in a cacophonous tone which reverberates off of the walls making the noise grow even more. I find myself not bothered, instead I tune out the pandemonium and watch.

Children have the most wonderful way of doing things. Their minds work in the most wondrous ways. They allow curiosity of the unknown drive them, not caring about the world around them. If they want to mix chocolate milk and ranch dressing together, eat it (or drink it) they do. And then get so excited, and proud of the mystery fluid they concocted, they feel the need to tell someone about it. OR if they can't eat the apple their mother packed for them, because their teeth are missing, they figure out another way... using a spoon no less.

Not sure many adults would like of something that far away from the norm. They would, most likely, find a knife and cut the apple in several pieces. It is more practical that way. But kids don't care about practicality, they set their sights to something and they don't worry about the obstacles... they just do.

As we move out to the playground my fascination grows. Watching the girls run as fast as they can, remembering the feeling of the wind whipping through my hair and just how freeing it really felt. Never losing my breath afterward, I would just pick up and start running again. Not bothering with the people surrounding me, not worrying if they were watching me or not. I just ran because it felt good and I liked it.

Kids pick up all sorts of things outside. Amazing things that, to them, are treasures. I have seen them bring small trophies up to the TA with so much excitement they are practically shaking, only to show a sunflower seed someone must have dropped while eating a snack. It doesn't matter, they won't think about where it came from, instead they will place it in their pocket and keep it as a trinket for a short while.

Now that spring is here and the ground is no longer wet, the kids play this marvelous game. I was told it was supposed to be a twist on dodgeball, because instead of throwing it, you kick the ball. If the other team catches it then the kicker is out.

But these kids changed the rules.

They play differently, they separate into grades, there is no picking... no one is chosen last. One grade on one team, the other grade on the other team. They kick the ball and catch it, and kick it again. No one wins, no one loses, no one scrutinizes, a never ending game of fun.

I'm told that they changed the rules of their own accord, they didn't want anyone's feelings to get hurt and this was their decision. I've been told that teachers and the principal even have tried getting them to play different games ie. football, basketball, soccer. But they always go back to this game... it is incredible really.

I think we forget, when we grow up just how good it feels to not have any worries, to be carefree, yes... not everything is hunky dory for kids. But do you remember what it was like to peddle your bike so fast up the hill that you thought your legs were going to fall off, just to see if you really could jump it at the top? Do you remember how it felt if you did get off the ground, even if it was just a hair? It felt like you were flying...

When does the innocence go away? Why does the outside world effect us so much? Is life really so stressful that we can't just let go and feel the breeze in our hair again? What are we afraid of?

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