My daughter loves going to the playground. Me, not so much. When I first started taking her there, it felt strangely reminiscent of junior high school. There were plenty of kids running around and, much to my dismay, there also seemed to be plenty of parental cliques clustered around the park. For some reason, the outgoing, self-confident woman that I always considered myself to be was transported back to adolescence when the last thing I wanted to do was walk up and say “Hi” to people I didn’t know.Luckily, I’ve gotten over my reluctance to meet moms this way. As a matter of fact, I’ve struck up some interesting conversations as I’ve stood side by side with moms – and a few dads — while we pushed our children on the swings. I’ve also gotten to know several babysitters, and I’ve made plenty of mental notes on the ones I’d love to report to their charges’ parents if I knew where to find them.
It’s occurred to me that while I’m teaching her how to make her way in the world, her exchanges on the playground are illustrative of pretty much everything you need to know to get through life successfully:
1. Life is made up of all kinds of people. We’re fortunate to live in a diverse community. On any given Saturday morning, my daughter plays with children whose parents speak Japanese, French, Italian, Russian, and, of course, English. She was delighted to tell me recently that she’d met another little girl who was adopted from China “just like me!” The even better news is that she never describes these children as looking or sounding any different from her; she simply calls each one “a new friend.” I’m hoping that continues for the long haul.
2. Everybody gets a turn (and the corresponding rule –“No cutting!”) If children who are barely out of training pants generally understand that you have to let the people in front of you on line go before you, how is it that college-educated adults think it’s okay to cut someone off for a parking space or slip in front of someone at Starbucks because they don’t want to miss the 8:02? You know who you are—shame on you!