I walk The Love Magnet to school when the weather is nice. I've started to notice things when we walk onto the school yard property.
There are always a ton of boys playing football. Way more than there would normally be on the football field. Each one of those boys are clamoring for that ball. Just once! If they could only get it just once! Yet the same ten boys always seem to get the ball. And none of them want to share the glory that comes with it. So why do the rest keep playing?
There is always a group of girls just off the football field, watching the boys. They are trying to look cool, holding jump ropes but never jumping. They stand close to each other and whisper behind hands, giggling if the boys look at them. One of the girls never has a coat on, no matter how cold it is. Is it cool to not wear a coat? Does she not have a coat?
Another girl kneels on the ground against the school wall. She watches the girls, her hoodie pulled so low over her face, it looks as if she is hiding. I can tell from her eyes that she is begging for one of the girls to notice her, to acknowledge her, to include her. She constantly leans forward, almost to the point of falling over. Other than her lean, she doesn't move.
A boy always stands at the corner of the school, away from the other kids. He usually faces the wall as if he can't bear to look at anyone, or is it that he can't bear to have anyone look at him? My heart breaks when I pass him. He doesn't acknowledge greetings. No one ever goes over to talk to him.
The Love Magnet says hi to everyone. She tells friends she likes their shirt/shoes/backpack/hair. She hugs the teachers and aids out watching the children. She high-fives and fist-bumps her 4th and 5th grade buddies who come help in her class. She yells down the hall to the music teacher, says hi to the janitor, hugs her aide, and playfully avoids the hugs of the head of extended resource for a few tries. TLM eventually hugs resource head and laughs with her over the teasing.
I realized today as I dropped my daughter off, the unspoken social rules of this playground. Those rules that govern every child on who plays with whom, who can be approached, and those self-invented rules that keep children from playing with others.
My daughter knows nothing about those rules.
To her, everyone is approachable. Everyone is equal.
When I grow up, I want to be just like her.