01.21.15

the playground

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:06 am by Administrator

yesterday, we took our kids to an indoor playground. it’s a very popular place in our general vicinity, and my wife has taken my kids there on a couple occasions already. yesterday was my first time there, and it was surprisingly fun for me to see how much my kids enjoyed it. amidst forty or fifty other children diving into plastic ball pits, climbing ladders, running through hurdles, and marching across bridges, my kids fit in seamlessly, as part of a little world of innocent pleasures and boundless joys. i don’t generally like “kid things”, whether it’s an animated movie, an amusement park, or a children’s book. but for precious moments yesterday, i think i reconnected with a lost part of myself that once loved plastic tubes, rope ladders, and places where kids shout and laugh.

i have to admit that as i watching the children, i was at one point struck by a sad thought—a really powerfully sad thought. you can take children from any part of the world and put them together in a playground, and they will enjoy one another. but then they grow up and won’t be put in the same room together. they’ll be Miss Universe contestants who won’t take photos with one another. they’ll join militant groups that will kidnap and execute one another. they’ll move to certain neighborhoods and harbor ill feelings toward people who live elsewhere. they’ll pull knives or guns or speak bad words to people they’ve never met. they won’t laugh with one another; they won’t make faces at each other through plastic window frames; they won’t help each other climb up the slide. they’ll be hardened, they’ll be angry, and they’ll be bad to one another. that’s how we grow up, and that’s how we grow old.

sometimes i look at the weird, ugly, and painful things in our world and i try to explain them to myself. but today, i think of my kids, and i think of the kids they played with yesterday. there’s no good explanation for it, for the thing that happens to us. it’s not all bad, but there’s plenty of sadness in it. there’s so much sadness in it, in fact, that i envy the kids. what’s beautiful about children, i realize, is that they are so different from the rest of us. it’s not any one quality; it’s every quality that they have that we have lost. i think that we look at ourselves and feel pressed to find evidence of our strength, our wisdom, and our great accomplishments. but really, isn’t it all just a shame? because i miss the playground. i miss the fun. i miss the other kids. and i miss the feel of it all. it’s heavy now, and i don’t feel the heaviness really, at least not until i see how light my children are, when they dance in that pure delight of wonderment, that thing that we give away too soon and for no good reason

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