Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Rules Of Play

Standing around on a primary school playground, you learn a lot. 
About boys. 
And girls. 
About who's sensitive.
And who's not. 
Those that aren't sensitive display something else. 
A tough exterior. 
A "you can't try to be nice to me" exterior. 
I won't let you in. 
And in reality, those kids are the ones who are the most sensitive. 

They are the boys who run around pushing the others. 
And you want to scold them and tell them to stop misbehaving. 
Because they are old enough to know better. 
And then you see the ketchup on their face. 
The sweat rolling into their eyes. 
Their freckles and baby teeth. 
And you remember...just a kid. 
This is just a kid. 
Who needs more guidance. 
Who needs someone to show them the right way to behave. 
To not use hands in anger. 
To use hands to give high-fives. 
There are some boys who live in a household with only brothers. 
And rough housing is the game of the day. 
Every day. 
They don't know you shouldn't put a girl in a headlock. 
They don't know the smaller boys don't like to be pulled around by their thumbs. 
Maybe no one at home tells them "stop that."
So, a playground supervisor carries more than just a whistle. 
I have to carry around compassion. 
I carry my ears as if they are as large as an elephant's. 
Trying to hear all. 
Deciphering what is fun play versus cruel play. 
My eyes catch girls in a huddle. 
Whispering and looking at other groups of girls. 
And I make my way over. 
And learn that so-and-so called someone else chubby. 
So we talk about hurt feelings. 
And not speaking to other girls with such disdain. 
And I make these kids, all of them, apologize face to face to one another. 
The rough houser, the tattler, the name caller. 
We talk it out, we look at each other in the eye. 
Then we high-five it out. 


  1. good to see that girl smiling on that school playground! :)

  2. I wish you had been my playground supervisor!