Observations from the Sidelines

Children Playing sign

image courtesy of andrewatla

I’m sitting in the play area of every kid’s favourite burger joint, watching my six year old son play hide & seek with five other kids. For all the yelling and screaming and thumping around, I have to say this really is a beautiful thing.

None of these kids knew each other ten minutes ago. Heck, they still don’t. But they are running around treating each other like they have been best friends for years.

The thing that really amazes me is that nobody asked to play and nobody was invited to play. They just started playing.

They make no judgements and don’t care about their differences. They don’t see any differences. It doesn’t matter what their age, gender or names are. They don’t care about hair or skin colour. Short, tall skinny, or not. All they see is “friend”. Everyone is welcome. Just take your shoes off and join the fun!

The parents, on the other hand, are quite a different story. Everyone seems content to let their kids play together. But while the kids play, every single parent here is sitting alone and looking down, myself included. We are on our phones and iPads or reading a book. We don’t look at each other and we certainly don’t talk to each other. I can only imagine what would happen if I sat down next to one of them and just started talking. They’d think I was off my rocker!

When did it become socially acceptable to be so anti-social? Children are always being told to grow up and act more like grown ups. But really, I think I’d rather be more like a kid!


  1. Heather Marshall says:

    It’s not like this in a lot of the world. Down in the Caribbean, for example, that antisocial behaviour is totally unacceptable and rude. When the locals get on a bus, they say hello to all the people on the bus, including the driver. They smile broadly to people they pass in the street, and often say hello. They wouldn’t think you were off your rocker if you sat down beside them and started to talk to them. It was quite refreshing when we were there. I’ve been told of numerous other areas in the world (eg, South Pacific) which are similar in that respect. Even in our own country, I was struck by regional differences. Doing a bike tour in PEI, almost every time I stopped to check my map, someone would run out of their house to offer directions, and offer to fill my water bottle. Trust me, doesn’t happen in Calgary!

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