Skip to main content

Do We Ever Leave The Playground?

I'm at the playground again. I have fleeting memories of being at the playground as a child - all metal and hard edges - swings, seesaw, slide - vying for my turn, being pushed, pushing, crying to my mommy, trying to play with kids that didn't want to play with me...You get the picture. Many of you have been there yourself.

Spin the clock forward a quarter of a century. I'm back at the playground. It's a nicer playground - wood structures, rubber mats, safer, prettier. I'm a young mom and I've got an infant and a four year old little boy. I now have two focuses of interest and attention - my child and how he's doing out here - and my peers and how I'm doing out here. I see my son casing the joint, figuring where he wants to go, where he feels a bit uneasy, who he will join, who he'll stay clear of. It isn't really about the equipment. It's about the social interactions. I could probably have learned a lot more then than I did about how my four year old was fairing in the give and take of playing with others. Looking back, I'm sure the way he played then, the way all the kids played then, foretold so much about their social interactions as adults. But back then, I wasn't only concerned about my child's social interactions, I was also concerned about my own. There were other moms there, often the same moms. I knew them from play groups, from seeing them year after year at the playground, bumping into them in the supermarket, at the drug store.There were moms I considered "playground friends." There were moms who were part of cliques that I stayed clear of. There were the "solo moms" who seemed intent on being "solo." (Now I realize they were probably just too shy or afraid of rejection and took the safe road). I liked a few of the moms enough to want to move our friendship beyond the playground but it never happened. That is, I never took the first step and neither did they. There were also the moms I intentionally kept as playground friends because I got glimpses of how they interacted with their kids. A spanking, a lack of attention, too much attention. Different philosophies of child rearing.  Life at the playground. A microcosm of life.

Spin the clock forward forty years and here I am again. A grandma with a four year old granddaughter, a four month old grandson. And a daughter who's now the mom, now the one who is involved in this very same microcosm. I see her chatting with some of the moms, nodding to some others who are alone, a quick stop by moms who are grouped together before she moves off. I hear one of the groups talking about haircuts, diet, holiday plans. They seem to know each other well. They seem more than playground friends. It's still the same. The equipment is different, even better, more creative. But it has nothing to do with what's at the playground. It's all about who is at the playground. And the who's haven't changed. Life hasn't changed in certain basic ways.

I am still the child at the playground, the young mom at the playground, the grandma at the playground. The main difference is I see it more clearly now. I understand it better. I would have liked to be clearer when I was younger. But clarity can sometimes take a long time. So better late...


Popular posts from this blog

My friend asked me to pose nude for her...

The other day C. called. She has always been an avid photographer and she's really good. I have one of her photos on my wall. Anyway, she told me she was going off for a weekend course in how to photograph people in the nude. Older people. In particular, older women. I waited. I didn't have to wait long. I had my "no" at the ready. When she did ask me if I would pose for her I thought it would be rude to just say "no." What I did say was that the day I can get dressed facing the mirror rather than with my back to it, I would consider it. Notice, I was careful not to say anything definitive. Here's the thing. Like plenty of you out there I have a hang-up about my body. It's not a bad body, especially given that it's an older body. And I'm not going to list the various parts of my body that I particularly have a hang-up about because...well, it would be a long, boring and familiar list. But I really wanted to show my support for C.'s

Thank God you can pick your friends!

My husband and I are about to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of very special friends. We met Ted and Deanna 36 years ago and we've stayed strongly connected through a number of moves (ours not theirs), illnesses, life's many ups and downs. We've shared sad times and joyous times. We've traveled together, spent wonderful visits at each others' homes. I'm sure we must have shared thousands of meals together. Thousands of laughs. They've always, ALWAYS been there for us and we have always tried to be there for them. History. We have a deep and meaningful shared history. J. and I are  truly blessed to have a wonderful group of close friends and we value them all. But there are very few couples I've known and loved longer than this very special couple. You can't pick your blood relatives but thank God you can pick your friends. From the very first time we all met, J and I picked them. We were couples with young families. We were in the first dec

You can take the girl out of The Bronx, but...

Well, you know the rest. I have to confess for a long time I really tried to get rid of The Bronx. For a long time after that I thought I had. And for a long time I felt good about it. I'd escaped. No one could tell by my speech, my look, my style, etc. I used to love to hear, "You're from The Bronx? I'd never have guessed." And it's more than that. It's escaping a past that didn't fit in with my fantasy of who I wanted to become, who I wanted to be. It was an escape from a certain social class, an escape from parents whose customs, manners, interests felt alien to me - or maybe the truth was I wanted them to feel alien to me. I wanted to be my own creation!  But deep down I knew the truth. I knew it and it bothered me. I felt like there was really no escape. Not from The Bronx. Not from the lower income class that shaped me. Not from a mother who loved a bargain more than almost anything. And it bothered me. But lately something has changed. It&