Last night as the summer sun swept across the horizon fading from the day, my son begged to go to the playground. “Let’s go, Mommy!” The smile stretched across his six-year-old face as I listed all the local playgrounds we could visit. “Pick whichever one you want and we will go!”
He pondered his options, then chose the last one on the list. It was the farthest from our home, but “has the most awesomest rock wall.” Who could resist that?
When we arrived, the playground was busy, but not mobbed. There were a few parents idling around, several teenagers walking the path, and a handful of children running and playing.
Not a single person here shared our skin color.
He ran towards the rock wall before I could even close my car door. “Take a picture of me, Mommy!” His small feet scampered up to the top and there he stood, so proud of his accomplishment.
Another boy joined him at the crest and they spent the next hour playing together. There were no formal introductions, no hesitation, just two boys happy to play with each other.
They ran through the jungle gym and slid down the slide, waiting for each other at the bottom to do it all again. Their make-believe banter echoed across the metal monkey bars as they celebrated their mission of evading dangerous crocodiles below. “Follow me!” they chanted as they zig-zagged through the park, their small bodies darting from one end to the other.
I helped the boys into the swings, their small legs too short to touch the ground, then gave them both five pushes (“and one for good luck!”) Then I sat on a bench to watch the boys swing higher and higher in the sky.
As I scanned the playground area, I saw trash scattered across the grass. Keeping an eye on the boys, I walked over and picked up the discarded plates, napkins, and plastic drink pouches, placing them inside the dumpster where they belonged. (Yes, I was struck by the irony of the trash so close to the dumpster with the “Please Don’t Litter” sign attached. My best guess is the trash was in the large box on the dumpster and had blown out from the wind.)
As night began to fall, we wrapped up our playtime with one last spin on the tire swing. “Mommy! I made a best friend today!” my little guy exclaimed as his giggles rang across the meadow.
Yes, you did, sweet boy.
Yes, you did.
This is how the world should be.