Monday, May 26, 2008

grown-ups need playgrounds

"You look like a bat hanging there," a little black girl said to me, no older than 9 or 10 years, as I hung upside down on the monkey bars at the playground today.

I helped Soraya, temporarily in my care on the good faith of her parents a short walk away, as she tried to grab on to the next bar while she hung on the first one. "I can't do it!" She jumped down. The black girl tried after her. After a few bars she also gave up.

"I used to be able to do it," she said. "But now I'm fat."

"Me, too, I'm fat," repeated Soraya.

Where did they learn to say such a thing?

It seemed like the United Nations called a picnic day at Marsh Creek. There were people of all colors, ages, religions, and my white skin was practically a minority. Not really tempered to being around children, it was so refreshing to see how open they were with each other to take turns or help (or ask for help) regardless of any racial or gender differences.

A pat on my leg turned out to be a tiny Asian girl pointing to a low platform that was still too high for her to reach herself. No words. A clear, simple message.

"Is that your daughter? Is that your son?" said the first girl, referring to those knee-highs that had enlisted my help. What a great way to feel useful in a short period of time.

"No. I am only attached to that one." I pointed to Soraya.

I have no idea who these kids are, I wanted to say.

I think grown-ups need playgrounds.