Yesterday I picked up my grandboy from school. As we turned
the corner to our house he yelled, “HEY NINI! THE PARK! You said we could go to
the park IMMEDIATELY when we got here today!”
The park he means is the neighborhood one just caddy-corner
from our house, and is commonly known around here as “Nini’s Park.” And I had
indeed promised him we would go, immediately. So off we went.
The temp was in the 70’s and the wind was only blowing about
20 mph (not bad for Kansas). I settled onto a park bench and watched this seven-year-old boy crawling around on the new playground equipment – which is
apparently meant for toddlers, because he looked kind of ridiculous squatting
down to look out the little window, and then thumping down that tiny slide.
He abandoned the play set quickly and wandered over to the
swings, kicking up rocks and singing some song I couldn’t quite recognize.
Loudly, of course. A girl of about five meandered over, stuffed tiger under her
arm, and yelled, “HI!” The boy got weirdly shy and could barely muster a little
It didn’t take long for her to gently place the tiger into
the smallest swing, and she gave it a little nudge. The wind grabbed it and up
it went, and the boy ran over to help. He caught the swing just as the tiger
was falling out, saving the day.
And just like that, a friendship was born.
We stayed for another half hour, and they chattered and
played and imagined and chased.
At one point he asked her, “What is your tiger?”
She look puzzled, hesitated, and said, “Well, I did give him
He looked puzzled, then, “No! I mean what KIND of tiger is
“I SAID I gave him a name – it’s Hank!”
“But what KIND is it? Like Bengal, or Siberian?”
“HIS NAME IS HANK.”
End of discussion.
And off they went for more imaginative play. It was sweet
and funny to watch. Soon, though, it was time to go. They waved goodbye, and as
we walked away, the little girl yelled, “WAIT! I have to give you a flower!”
So we turned back, and she ran over and presented him with a
dandelion head. He cheerfully said thanks, and as we walked toward home I said,
“That was nice, her giving you a flower. What is her name?” His response:
“Ummm … I don’t think she told me. But she gave me a flower!”
Then we skipped home and had some Nini Toast (of course),
and then it was time for him to go home.
This morning, I found the flower on my table, long forgotten,
pretty sad looking by now. But when I looked at it, what I heard was … “She
gave me a flower!”
He’s too young and she was too young for this to be anything
other than a sweet interaction between children, but it’s been awhile since I’ve
witnessed it. The playing, and the laughing, and the imaginations in action. It
was really fun, and funny, to watch them.
Even though they still don’t know each other’s names, I guarantee
you that if they meet up again in the park, they’ll take up right where they
Why is it that children can make friends so easily, and yet it
can be so difficult for us grownups? Maybe we just need to hand out more
Smiling in the wind,