Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Why don't we play anymore?

Almost every evening just after it gets dark there are a bunch of kids that play hide and seek on my street. They hide behind garbage cans, trees, plants, cars, telephone poles, behind fences, on top of fences, or cars. I hear scampering  and scurrying and loud whispering all evening. Sometimes when I am walking a kid will happen to jump out of his hiding place and startle me. They just pop of nowhere sometimes. You are not supposed to scream when this happens because it alerts the person that is searching. If you see a kid hanging out behind a garbage can you are not supposed to say "hola Ricado how are you?",  you just smile and wink and walk by. Sometimes they have a designated safe place that they try to run to without getting tagged, this causes more running and even shrieking...mucho excitement. I love all these sounds, the scurrying, running, shrieking, and loud whispering, they are the sounds of a simple and fun life happening all around me, they are sounds of my childhood. This is how I grew up, running around outside until I was called in at night. At 8 pm almost on the dot all the kids go home and you can hear the leaves rustle and the crickets, and of course the surf. 

 A few days ago a friend  and I went to the far point (Los Chivos) to swim and eat pizza, we were entertained by a group of about 6 kids from the ages 3-8 (guessing) playing in the water all afternoon (it was a Saturday). These kids played without an adult hanging over them all afternoon. They had a boogie board and a paddle board and fell off them in every way possible I think, head first, nose dive, butt first, they ran into each other, knocked each other over (accidently). There was a boat docked so they climbed into it and fell off of it every which way possible too. We saw a 3 year take a very impressive nose dive off a boogie board in very shallow water, his nose must have been packed with sand, he shook it off and didn't even squawk not even a bit. Not one kid cried, no one ran to tell mom anything, no one was hungry or had to pee, no one hurt themselves, they didn't fight over the boogie board, not one mom had to yell at them once or remind them to be "good" or to share or to take turns or to yell "stop that", or "do that once more and we are going home". Nope. There were no hovering and yelling moms.

At the same time we watch a father play in the water with his 2 daughter, they had no toys, but they were just playing in the water, chasing each other, racing, shrieking and laughing, making us laugh. Then they discovered the paddle board and had fun falling off of it as well. You could tell the father was really having a good time, he wasn't pretending, he wasn't playing with his kids because his wife told him too or because they begged him too, you could tell he was really into it, his laughter was genuine, he was running and playing with heart and with pure joy, and you could tell they were used to playing with him, this was not a special occasion. They weren't clinging to him with fear that if they let him go he would go back to the table and check his phone messages and the fun would be over.

Today I was at Los Chivos again ( I like it there) 3 little kids entertained me on the trampoline, yes there is a big trampoline beside the ocean. They jumped on that trampoline for 3 hours, non stop. They played all kinds of silly games, I heard them make their rules up as they played, and change the rules as they played as well. Again, they jumped into each other every way possible and fell every way possible, and again not once did someone cry or whine and not once did an adult intervene. I didn't even see their parents. 

Last night as I came home from the beach my neighbors were in the middle of a very exciting baseball game in their yard. The 6 year old was batting and the mom was pitching and the dad was standing on the street in case the kid hit it over the fence and onto the street, which he did many times (their yard is small) in fact it is so small that any Canadian dad would have never tried to play baseball in a space this small. They were so fun to watch, they were laughing and their commentary to his batting was so fun, every time the ball went over the fence they were cheering and clapping, the kid was jumping up and down laughing at his parents being silly and chasing the ball. I laid in my hammock listening to them for an hour, almost made me tear up. (i know...I'm sappy sometimes) 
Again, they were not pausing and checking their cell phones, or their watches for the time to see if they had spent enough "quality time" with their son, nope, this was real, just parents playing with their son because they like to play and have fun too.

Quite often I see North American families here on vacation, most of the time you see the adults sitting in the restaurant under an umbrella sipping beer and the kids sitting in the sand close to the table, sometimes they  play in the water on the edge but it all seems very awkward and a bit stressed, no one really knows how to behave, how to relax, how to have fun. Everything has to be just right, the right clothes, swim suits, life jackets even, sunscreen, hats, umbrellas, towels, bathrooms, and of course they will needs toys of some kind (what else do you play with?). So they sit in the sand and dip their toes in the water not really knowing what to do and usually end up just annoying their parents. The parents just want to relax (they are on vacation after all) the loud Mexican music annoys them, the kids are annoying them, the internet connection on their Iphones is intermittent and that annoys them too, the bathrooms are dirty, the table is wobbly and the bees keep trying to get into the coke bottles, the waiter has limited English and the food doesn't come fast enough, the sun keeps moving  and the umbrella is never in the right place and when it's time to leave the kids have gotten themselves dirty and maybe even wet...now what!? When asked back home "how was your holiday?" they say things like "nice, but it was tiring", or I've also heard "I need time to recover from the stress of going on vacation"...have you  heard that? I may even have said that years ago myself. I used to not know how to vacation either. They should give classes, and have Mexicans teach it.

The other day there were a lot of Mexican tourist on the beach that have come from inland Mexico, it must have been a Mexican holiday. What a different scene that was. I saw kids, parents, grandparents in the water, some with swim suits but the majority were in there with their clothes on, I saw little kids digging holes in the sand  and filling them with water and making sand mud and lying in it, I saw them covering mom or dad with sand mud, burying their parents in the sand, whole families playing soccer, parents building sand castles with the kids, the music was loud which resulting in some spontaneous dancing.

We have lost this in our country. We no longer like to play and have fun, good clean, silly fun. Simple fun for no reason other than just to have fun. Adults don't do it anymore and kids don't do it anymore. Kids need to have trophies and prizes as motivation to get moving. There has to be adults with clip boards and rules supervising and organizing. Plus we are too busy. Could an adult even play with their kids for 3 hours without checking their cell phone these days?

 Oh...those parents with the boy playing baseball, they had a set of 3 month old twins sleeping in the house, don't tell me they aren't busy too. 

This is a beautiful shot of Los Chivos that I scooped from the internet, no idea who to give credit, its clearly taken from the air. You can see how there is a perfect little shelter from the waves, perfect for a beginner swimmer and for kids to play in the water. 

Yes, she runs, she is a beauty, pure genius. I happen to know this young man that built this, he is a mechanical genius, he built a working washing machine out of a plastic cup and the motor from a  remote control car for his sister's barbie dolls when he was 8, and it worked.  
This is an amazing shot that a friend of mine snapped on a beach a little further south of here. I am always shy of snapping pictures of other people's kids but I think I would have caved and snapped this one too. A true picture of what happens on a real beach when it is full of nationals vacationing. I have seen parents clean and pack their kids up in so many interesting scenarios but this is priceless. There is so much happening in this one shot. You could write a whole story, maybe even a book on this one picture. One thing you know for sure, these kids had a great day at the beach, they played their heart out and will fall asleep on the way home and get carried into the house.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

"They should give classes and have Mexicans teach it." OH SO TRUE!

What a wonderful post that brought back a flood of memories of my own childhood at the beach. Not a care in the world, aside from who could scale the highest sand dune and be "King of the Mountain." The memories are palpable.

That photo in the ice chest is PRICELESS!