Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lessons I'm Learning on the Playground

This is our fifth place to move to in our four years of marriage. And I'm not talking down the street...we were married in Houston, moved to El Paso, Norway, Shanghai, Nanjing (also China) and now Canada.

Starting over and making friends seems to be part of our daily lives. But it is never easy. Each new place brings a whirl of excitement in the early weeks and reality sets in the following.

The "reality phase" is my worst nightmare. This is when I realize that I am still not home, I have (usually) yet to make my best friends, and I still (usually) have not set up my daily routine, errands and the normal stuff of life.

So, since our third move, my game plan has been to ride that Exciting Phase and figure out the city, meet as many people as possible and try to get into a few groups or weekly classes to build my new normal stuff of life. My current days are filled with exploring the city and all it has to offer and ,while Carter is sleeping, I am researching what else we can do.

Needless to say, we are spending hours each day at various playgrounds thanks to this fabulous blog, Calgary Playground Review. (By the way, if you've been searching for a meaningful blog to write, I highly suggest mimmicing that one. Helpful, needed, useful and positive.) In China, we did not have the luxury of clean air, grass (or gravel, or shaved tire/wood chips), splash parks, or even many playgrounds at all! So, I know we've got some catching up to do!

It has been so much fun watching Carter explore all of these new things everyday. And in our most current journey together, he has been giving me a few lessons on making friends. Here are a few:

1. It's okay to say "Hi" to random people. Carter will bend down to the other child's level, look them directly in the eyes and say "Hi!" I love this. Friendly, open, respectful.

2. Don't be scared to just jump in the fun. I notice that Carter will watch the other kids on the playground. He usually seeks out a pack of older (wild) boys and just runs over to them, stands right in the middle of their group, and run whenever they run. Granted, he can't keep up or do most of the things they can but he tries and isn't intimidated. Why can't we, as adults do that? Just jump in where you want!

3. Who cares what you are wearing? Yesterday, our my plan was to go to the park, then the Farmer's Market for some green beans. Carter planned to go to the park, play in the splash pool in his jeans and polo, then go to the Farmer's Market and dance to polka music in only his diaper and crocs. I can hide behind my own fear of getting out there, by not having the appropriate outfit on, or not looking my best. Lesson? Who cares...or always be prepared and look your best. I guess it depends on who you ask!

4. Take the Risk!! He freaks me out daily. My child always wants to try the Ages 5&Up activities out there. I try to coax him to attempt something simple, "safer" or really less high. But, I end up spotting him with butterflies in my tummy. He surprises me, because he can do it. It takes a few tries, maybe a few days, but he wants to do these things. So he does them. When does this stop in life? When is it that difficult tasks are put off and the easy ones fill our time? He is stronger, more confident and joyful because he has done the work...and taken that risk!!

5. Trying something on your own, can often mean meeting new people. Carter doesn't care if everyone on the playground knows each other except for him. He plays. He talks to them, he joins in. By the end of the play, he has usually found a little buddy to watch and copy (because that is what friends do at 18months!) When in life does this become a fear? Being the outsider is a difficult feeling for me to cope with. I try to bring a friend or Hubby to something the first time before doing it on my own. When really, like Carter, the time I jump in alone, I come out with having met someone new!

I love the innocence and fearlessness that comes with lack of age and experiences. Don't you? I wish we could just hold on to that forever!


  1. God bless you for being so willing to be open about your thoughts and feelings. You are in my prayers!

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    ¸.¤•º°´¯ ♥ ¯`°º•¤. ♥♥HUGS, Melly♥♥.¤•º°´¯ ♥ ¯`°º•¤.¸¤ ¯`°º•¤. ¸
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    Second Grade Strategies for Sizzlin' Second Graders!

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  2. I think we could learn a lot from children. I wish adults still did what kids are not afraid of doing. Think how much more fun and exciting life would be.

  3. Mrs. S-Thank you!

    Ashley-Totally agree!!! Everyday we'd have so much fun, get tons of exercise, and sleep hard every night.

  4. I'm so glad you're enjoying my blog! What a great article. It's something I'm not very good at I have to say. I'm pretty shy when I'm out at the playgrounds but I'm trying to be a little more open.

  5. Great post! The 4 year old we were with today told us about the "new friends" she had made, who invited her to play. Her mom asked what their names were. "I haven't asked yet." she replied. Because the play was the issue, not the details. :-)

  6. Great post Sarah! You are so right - well, I guess Carter is right! :) Great read.



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