Monday, December 17, 2007

The Monkey Bars

Soon after I moved to Pennsylvania, I found myself in a strange situation unlike any I had ever been in. I was staying with my new in-laws in an apartment building in the city. If you don't think that is strange and scary, you don't know me. We were in the process of buying a house in another area so everything was in limbo. There wasn't much for me to do since I knew nothing about the area and my wife was always at work.

Several times I found myself at the apartment's playground, sitting at the top of the monkey bars chatting with kids, most of whom were between 10 and 15 years old. I actually enjoyed those times a lot. Whether it was listening to them talk about the things that were important to them, or on rare occasions trying to give them adult advice, I came away with a sense of respect for them. They were much smarter and more aware than most adults give them credit for being, and in some cases, probably too aware. Some, if not most, came from family situations that were not very good. I never tried to advise them unless they really asked. You could tell that they needed to be listened to, and not talked down to.

I don't know if our perch up in the air helped or not, but I feel that my willingness to meet them on their own terms, instead of holding onto some silly adult dignity, may have opened the way for some real communication.

Seven years have passed, that marriage fell apart, I lost the house and all the money I had put into it to my ex-wife, and I have moved from state to state since then, but I still think of those kids and wonder where they are now. And I wonder why people can't sit and talk to one another so that understandings can be forged. Meet people on their own turf even if you think you will look silly. We are all more alike than different, after all.

"The Christmas Do-Over" from Blogonomicon

A nice story about how we should behave every day. Link