Playground Etiquette 

A couple of months back, we were pleasantly welcomed to the playground, just below our block, by 2 Caucasian kids. 

The 5 yr old automatically said “Hi there, good morning!” As she saw KX walked into the playground. Her 3 yr old sister followed suit. I was impressed. Very. 

Immediately, I told KX, (who at that point, totally did not know how to respond to such level of friendliness) to acknowledge and say ‘hi, my name is KX. What’s yours?’ 

I felt that KX had made 2 friends that day though there were not much chemistry amongst the 3 girls and they went on their individual play after the amiable greet. But, that’s at least a good start to building new friendships, learning the concepts of ‘playing together’ and ’embracing inclusiveness’. Since that day, I tried to make it a point to have KX greet new friends who walk into the playground and of course, I did too, with their mothers. 

On a separate occasion, last Saturday, KX requested to play at the playground in Clementi Mall. As she entered into a pool of multi-cultural nationalities, everyone just minded their own play. Parents with older kids were looking at their phones while those with younger kids just looked at their own. Should it be this way? Was it aloofness? What happened to the kampong spirit where everyone lives with an ‘open door’ concept and when people are not so individualistic? Hmmm…

KX went down the slide a few times while fixing her eyes on the see-saw. Rostick and Polina (siblings) were bouncing and jumping off the sea-saw, treating it like a jumping board.  My conservative asian decided to just wait til they were no longer playing before she went near the sea- saw. I waited with her. 

After several minutes of wait, Our two French friends rested with their mama by the side and KX looked at me. 

“Come, let’s go to the see-saw!” I led her. 

Excitedly, KX skipped along and just before she could occupy one seat, Polina raced to the other handle attempting to stand. It was at this point that I decided to step in and model for KX what could be done. 

“Would you like to play see-saw with her?” 

Polina nodded shyly as she gently took her seat. 

The two girls, rode happily til KX wanted to play something else. As usual, KX thanked Polina for playing with her and she ran along. 

Later on, KX returned to the see-saw and Zani ran towards the same seat. KX looked at me. I modelled for KX again.  

“Would you like to play see-saw with her?” 

Zani enthusiastically swept his superman cape away and sat to rock on his stallion. Just minutes into the play, the Burmese boy confidently asked KX if she would like to play ‘catch’ with him. After getting my permission, the two kids played chase. It was at this point when all other activities at the playground took a standstill and the rest of the kids looked on with envy. 

What better way to teach a child, ‘inclusiveness’ than to model it for her? 

“Would u like to play ‘Catch’ too? Rostick and Polina came close immediately. Just before I was about to appoint the ‘catcher’, a 2.5yr old made a quick dash to join in the circle. Since Garvin was the youngest amongst the 5 of them, he was appointed the ‘catcher’. The little Indian boy took everyone by surprise as he managed to catch all except for Rostick, who was 3 times older. 

The children took turns to chase and catch and the playground was soon filled with screams and laughters. The play opened the doors of the children’s hearts to embrace one another, regardless of race or religion. It tore away the invisible boundaries that were subconciously drawn up in our selfish world today. 

The mothers greet one another goodbye and so did the children. Zani’s Mother gave KX one of his MacDonalds balloon and KX was happy. 

Hi, my name is … would u like to play…. thank you for playing with me… 

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