Outdoor play areas for kids, when large and well designed, are pretty cool places when you think of it because children can jump and hide, shout and make a mess there without being prevented or criticized, because they are unbound and can unrestrictedly learn and flourish. But, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Watching my son play in the playground made me realize his miniature world is nothing but a society as we know it, with its group of small people though sharing common territory, interacting and identifying with one another. In the world of adults, economic hardship creates feelings of powerlessness that more often than not draw people toward dominant and decisive (however morally questionable) leaders, instead of respected and knowledgeable ones. Although some parents fail to see or hate to admit it, our and their worlds are alike, both populated by a wide variety of individuals: superior and inferior, generous and selfish, shy, modest, undemanding and sharing, creative and original, self-proclaimed gods, populist, egotistic, authoritarian leaders, common people, followers, servants (obeying only those of the upper echelon), those who play by the book or by ear, those who enjoy being in the spotlight, those who like to keep up with the Joneses or tend to keep a low profile.

Furthermore, the family with children is a form of government in which all power is vested in a single ruler, or two sovereigns, depending on whether it consists of two bad cops or a good and a bad one. Be that as it may, their authority is supreme and unquestionable so there’s no point in wondering if we are absolutists (with little patience for shades of grey), always telling our kids what to do and what not to, who to listen to, what and how to eat, when to talk, what to say, where to go and where to poo. I know the answer already.


On the other hand, it’s hard to be too giving and forgiving for many reasons. I like that my kid is bold, decisive, strong-willed and determined. B. generally likes company and it doesn’t mean that when he shows up, all present better disappear. However, his über-confident, overdramatic behavior and forceful personality can at times be quite embarrassing. He can be pretty assertive and assaultive on the swings or the seesaw or the slide for that matter where (I thought) rules of democracy abide. One thing I’ve learned in the meantime is there’s no government by the people where kids play. Consequently, just as we teach our little ones to take turns in conversation, we also need to show them how to share and how the whole turn-taking thing in the playground works. Sadly, some don’t since they obviously don’t believe in a fairer, more egalitarian society and, as someone has to, it’ll often be you if you want pushing down the slide, pulling hair, biting, and kicking to stop, whether it’s done to or by your kid. It’s not always easy to reach a truce, let alone a genuine one, but let’s say I’m more or less satisfied when it becomes bearable for all concerned or the ceasefire holds at least a few minutes…or seconds, to be more precise.

Luckily for small kids, they don’t know yet that language barriers can separate societies. By contrast, this microcosm of society is not restricted by them, among other things, because of how understanding, perceptive and compassionate children may be. They communicate on a whole different level than adults, verbalizing their displeasure both when it comes to them and their playmates, regardless of whether they know each other or have just met. Not only do they express deep awareness of the suffering of another but they also wish to relieve it, wiping their tears, hugging them or asking them or their parents what’s wrong.

Another good thing I’ve noticed spending plenty of time in the sandpit with toddles is the presence and acceptance of all the colors of the rainbow, that is an utter and complete absence of racism and xenophobia in their world. While there’s possessiveness and envy of another kid’s bigger and shinier toy, there’s no discrimination based on ethnicity, nationality, religion, appearance or disability. The society has yet to teach them hatred and prejudice, giving rise to inequality and aggression. Once they know how to properly inflict harm on each other, social integration, oftentimes achieved without a dialogue or the will to maintain peaceful social relations, will be complete. As opposed to sport and play areas, foul play is not always sanctioned in real life. Not that I blame the players. When the referee doesn’t send you off with a red card (preferably in the first half), you go on playing, with or without rules.

Author: Blogging_with_Bojana

I'm diggin' Need to grow, have to push Flicking through vinyl and feeding the rush I dig for that one and I open the haunt It's takin' all day from the back to the front I'm diggin' and diggin' You know Sorry baby I'm gone diggin'


    1. I was being sarcastic.
      Of course it’s our duty, but look at what has become of us. I guess, not all parents see it as a priority. I’ve seen it in the playground. When sb’s kid hits mine with a metal shovel, their parents often don’t react. It’s only when their kid’s endangered that they show their teeth. Some lesson, huh?
      In short, not only do the methods of parenting differ, but also the content as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know you were being sarcastic as was I. One of the first lessons I remember trying to teach my girls is that 2 wrongs don’t make a right? Followed by just because your friends jumped off a bridge….Have you ever read the poem All I ever needed to know I learned in Kindergarten? Not your typical artwork, but a poster that hung in my living room for many years when they were younger

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I totally agree with you! Having toddlers of my own and watching them with other toddlers, I am always impressed by how friendly they are, how open and communicative they are. I always feel totally relaxed with toddlers, there is nothing mean or cynical about them. My oldest child sees everyone as a friend and tells everyone everything about herself😄. She hasn’t experienced the kind of pain or fear that can turn her quiet or bitter, and I hope that I can help her to stay true to herself no matter what.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Their simplicity, curiosity, deep introspection, the ability to resolve differences, make friendships easily and forgive too is a lesson in character building. Observe their world to reflect on adult shortcomings. We tend to become more conformed out of compulsion and rarely speak our mind. Their laughter and cries, their little fights, and again that bonhomie is a wonderful example for us.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. There’s one (several) nuances I would add. Large towns are generally much more tolerant than small towns or rural areas. The children reflect their parents’ tolerance. The same nationalist claptrap you hear from ‘adults’ in the backwoods you also hear from their children in the playground. Also, a playground in a rough area is not like a playground in a ‘nice’ area. You’re not likely to find drug dealers or used syringes in the better areas. Socially, they are safe zones for the parents who care about that kind of thing.
    I’ve met lots of kids who repeat the inanities of their parents like little parrots, who gang up on the kid of the wrong colour (often Asiatic), won’t let the girls join in and generally push them around. Children are often spontaneous and do the hugging and drying of tears as you point out, but the tears are caused by the kids who are unpleasant, because their parents are unpleasant, and they will grow up to be replicas of that unpleasantness.
    I’ve been at the receiving end often enough, seen it happen to my own kids, heard what the mini-gauleiters say about them. I tend to take them as I find them, but don’t expect them to be any different or more likeable than their parents. If they were, it would only take a generation to have peace and love and hugs all round everywhere.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As I said, the society has yet to teach them cruelty. You don’t get to see that with toddles. It’s way to early. But, you do hear parents saying – Can we plz take that toy? It’s ours.
      It’s pretty mixed in kindergartens too.
      As for safe/unsafe areas, I guess you see that more often in France. Not in Germany. At least, not in Munich. Everywhere’s safe here. There’s no segregation.
      But, we’ll see later. Who knows what life has in store for us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, you’re right. Children aren’t sadistic. And yes, I have seen parents welly in and take a toy from one kid and give to another saying, that’s his. Parents often don’t share, and you’re right, kids aren’t keen on it either. It seems to me that children pick up the vibes their parents give out very quickly and there are a lot of not very nice parents out there. I’m terribly cynical about the sweet innocence of childhood. Kids are just small people, some good, some bad. I have no scientific evidence for that last statement though, just gut reaction 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. What an excellent examination of The Sandbox! I’ve been having many of these thoughts myself, although not so beautifully articulated and dissected. Isn’t it a bitch and a half when your kid is the well-behaved one and you cannot correct the behavior of another? I’ll tell Garrett that he can’t climb UP the slide, only to see another kid take his place after I’ve pulled him off. UTTER INJUSTICE! It’s a tough one to explain.

    I can’t believe more adults refuse to admit it, but their societies are total reflections of our own (or vice versa? probably vice versa). We often give ourselves an awful lot of credit, credit for having outsmarted our reptile brains and animal instincts, credit for being more mature than children from a behavioral standpoint, credit for living in organized societies instead of post-apocalyptic hellholes. Yeah… we’ve done all of those things….

    I did appreciate your remark about race. Discrimination occurs for much different reasons, as you’ve listed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I can see you’ve articulated it quite nicely. Are you underestimating yourself again?
      I got into this mood recently about who teaches whom and what we did wrong to have so many kids killing each other.
      Next post will me more sociological/ philosophical so there’ll be plently of time to pick up where we left off.
      Nice to see you again, J.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Not having children gives me different lenses. I have seen these microcosms, and you are so right. I also believe that puberty plays such a huge part in the change. Biologically we are animals and the dominate to mate instinct becomes so pervasive.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I know you did. Just kidding.
        I met a 10 year old sth girl in Croatia this year who liked my son and asked me if she borrow him for the day. I said- Sure, go ahead. Take him and bring him back tomorrow.
        She was shocked, asking me- But don’t you want him any more? Sure I do, I replied, but I don’t mind sleepovers.
        (Kids are painfully honest).
        P.S. Thank you. I really, really, really appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I got a lot of “If so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” when I was growing up. It was like a broken record but ultimately it taught me to be my own person. I loved your Sandbox analogy. All the hate we have is learned. Except wasps. We instinctively hate wasps because they’re assholes.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “In the world of adults, economic hardship creates feelings of powerlessness that more often than not draw people toward dominant and decisive (however morally questionable) leaders, instead of respected and knowledgeable ones.”

    This one had me shutting off the monitor for several minutes and contemplating the fate of humanity. Thanks for that!

    I remember the playground and I remember being one of the bullied more than the bully, but when left to my devices I could create quite a following. Even as a timid youth I could create stories of adventure and fantasy for the other kids to take roles in; inventing the “RPG” before the RPG!

    Well, maybe not as a toddler, but shortly after. The toddler life I remember not at all.

    But I did read this to my children and they responded “woof woof arf,” which, I think, means: girl can say that again!

    Can’t wait for the next installment of this. You take every bit of the world and make it contextual, Bojana, and for that I am always grateful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love all the ways you allow yourself to see, to feel and experience and interpret the world. I love how much you learn from being a Mom and that you share it here. These are my favorite posts, which is saying something, because you know how much I love your poetry. You are constantly teaching, but you can do this only because you allow yourself to be constantly learning.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We really do. Even though my niece is now 22, I still tell stories about how wise she was at the age of 2, how kind and open. I honestly think that in many ways, she just came out that way, as she is still like that 20 years later, but her essence came through with no abandon when she was a child. I find this to be true of most children. It’s amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Non, j’ai transféré mon contenu sur mon blog Pro et j’ai perdu tout mon contenu, je suis super déçu !!!
        GRRRR je suis vraiment nul en informatique moi.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oui, je ne suis pas très habile en informatique et ça me pénalise cruellement ma petite Baci.
        Des bisous et prends soin de toi.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Parenting is so difficult and a constantly-changing field of play. And it’s easy to become overprotective because we know everything! But like you said, we know too much. Our children haven’t learned to judge others on race, ethnicity, appearance, etc.

    Always such a pleasure to read your thoughts, Bojana!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Having never had kids, and having largely forgotten what it was like to be one, your sharply observant post answered a lot of questions for me. Thank you for that.

    The fact you are such a socially aware and humane parent gives me far more hope for the future than you might realize. Again, thank you for that.

    I have mixed thoughts about whether humanity is getting better. Over the long run, I think we are — things are certainly much better today in nearly every way than they were 500 years ago. On the other hand, it seems we are currently backsliding a bit. How far will that go? And the challenges that now face us are several of them existential threats — for the first time in history. Will we manage to survive? That’s no longer a silly question. Maybe as Stephen Hawking suggested, we’d best make an effort to be ruthlessly realistic about us and our human nature, and then get into space fast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like to book a one-way ticket, please. When are we taking off?

      In my New Year’s resolution post, I promised myself to (try to) be less realistic. But then, it’d mean being less of a skeptic and I can’t do that. That would imply stop doubting the truth of things, and and asking fewer questions and accepting. God no. That’s not me. Back to my realistic pessimism. We’re doomed, which shouldn’t stop us from striving to be better, right?

      Thank you for reading and this amazing comment. FTR, it gets more serious next week so stay tuned.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If I don’t think about it, I default to optimism. Unfortunately — unfortunate for my peace of mind — I tend to think about things, and I tend to be fairly realistic, I’d believe. That leads to some degree of pessimism. But like you, I firmly believe we must slog on anyway. What else can we do?

        By the way, after midnight my time, I’ll be publishing a post inspired by yours with a link back to it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pretty pessimistic as well and believe we’re losing the battle to keep global warming below 2C. There’s a very simple solution to the problem. The goal needs be politically agreed on the international stage. Sadly, it’s not, all because of damn money and different priorities, like fighting someone else’s wars, which boils to the same thing, making more profit. Oh the inhumanity of it all!

      (Thanks for reblogging)


  11. My Dear Bojana,

    A good topic; good reflections. Yet.

    As I was reading along, I was just going to suggest that the Children are ‘Pliable,’ if I may use the word.

    Maybe Parents become authoritarian and Bossy when they try to teach their children. That is coming across as Parent-Child.

    If We take a More Adult-Adult approach with them, it would Improve things no end.

    Hearty Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think racism can come from more than one place. Mine was based on fear and ignorance. Thank God I’ve met some wonderful people who have replaced that with positive experiences and love. In fact, I think that mentally ill people like myself experience that same thing… fear and ignorance leading to pre-emptive rejection. By the way, thank you for the like :>)

    Liked by 1 person

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