Lately, our children and I have gotten into the habit of taking a walk into the town after lunch. Their father usually has to do some work, and it’s nice to give him the quiet house to do it in. Also, by then even homeschooled children get antsy. So down to the village we go, chatting away. It’s wonderful. We have no serious agenda, no rush to get anywhere, just walking, talking and staying connected in each other’s company.
We decided to go to the library today, and then after that went to the playground a little bit further on. When we arrived at the playground, I have to admit, I was slightly put off.
This is going to sound horrible, but I don’t mean it to be. When we arrived I noticed that there were some kids hanging around. A few of them were quite older, and they were on the toddler slide, getting the younger children to pull grass up and cover the slide in it. Not only did I not like the feeling of the park as we entered, but I felt slightly annoyed as our little boy LOVES that slide and because of everyone hanging around it and using it in other ways, he couldn’t go on it. But still, I refocused, and played with him on the various other things and I watched our daughters with pride as they went to the neat swing thing at the other side of the playground.
As a homeschooling family, I find it interesting how our daughters relate to other children. Anyone you talk to about homeschooling seems to bring up socializing, but for our daughters this isn’t an issue. Whereas I was watching the rough looking kids rather warily, our daughters chatted to them a bit and then played with their usual gusto and joy. They spun their dolls on swings and laughed with pure connection. They didn’t seem to give a care about the other children, they didn’t mind what others thought of them or their games. They were there to play and no matter what the feeling of the park was today, they were going to play to their hearts content.
Our daughters’ laughter echoed through the park and it dawned on me that that was what had been missing from the park when we arrived. These other children had been “playing”, but the fun element wasn’t there. They might have been having a great and imaginative game as they scattered grass all over the slide, but because there was no laughter, no sense of fun, the game appeared destructive rather than creative. It appeared to be aimless.
As our daughters laughed and played, a shift occurred. One of the other children left the group around the slide and stood watching our daughters play. There was a wistfulness there and she was soon asking to join in with them. They were thrilled and soon were being swung and spun around by the new girl. Others joined them, and whereas before I felt overprotective and guarded, I found myself drifting with our son over to the other side of the park, just to give our daughters some space with their new friend. Actually, to give them some space to create magic.
The playground felt totally different soon afterwards. Our daughters had shifted the atmosphere and when we left the other children were laughing and playing about, without the lost, aimlessness that was there before.
I talked about it with them afterwards. I congratulated them on staying true to themselves, no matter what others were doing, and how by holding on to themselves and staying true to that, they had shifted reality for others. We also talked about walking into a group and if we don’t feel true to ourselves the groups feeling space could interfere with our own.
So often we want to offer spiritual truths to our children, but there’s nothing more complete than when it comes organically out of a day. A small moment in time can provide opportunity to make a difference and to provide tools of a lifetime. It’s being aware of it and seizing it.
I was struck on the walk home how laughter can make such a difference. I love walking with our children, as I’m distracted from the usual day to day chores and have time to laugh with them and to talk with them. Their eyes sparkle when we laugh together and I watched today how that sparkle carried through to other situations and social interactions.
Children, like all of us, are powerful beings. Our power lies within being ourselves, yet so often we get distracted, side tracked, by focusing on other people’s opinions or reactions. The fact that our daughters stayed true to who they are, and to the sense of play and laughter we had set up the moments before, made me realize that no matter how hard we try to protect them, its that sense of inner truth that protects them the most. As with that they can never go wrong.
The children we met today will be at the park again tomorrow and our daughters have asked to play with them. I think I’m always up for another walk.