Is It Okay To Get Dirty ?
It's not unusual for me to stop by a playground when exploring in a new city or a new country, so my recent visit to Mexico was no exception. While visiting the Aurora Design Center in the north of San Miguel de Allende, I came across an outdoor area adjacent to a cafe on the center's grounds where many families were gathered socializing while their children played nearby.
Though there was a small climbing structure in a grassy area next to the area where I found myself a bench to stop and rest, the small plot where the families gathered was more of a dirt lot surrounded by foot high walls. There were several lounge chairs, and the group of parents, mostly mothers, a few fathers, and one or two grandparents sat on them or the bordering walls.
During my 45-minute rest stop, I was fascinated to observe the children, between ten and twelve of them at any given time, who ranged in age from 2 to about 6, and their caregivers. Without a lot of props, the children seemed to busy themselves with digging in the dirt and climbing on and off the bordering wall. This was accomplished with few tears or conflicts, and the entire scene was unusual to me for how relaxed it was. While the adults were clearly observing and happily interacting with the children, they definitely were not hovering. There were no shout- outs to be careful, to share or to take turns. Everyone seemed comfortable with letting the children explore and interact with each other without much prompting from the parents. Even the "slow to get involved" child was sweetly patted without admonition to say hello or to play with the others, and he eventually ran off to join the action.
One thing I always notice at playgrounds and parks in the United States is the presence of water bottles and the constant pressure from parents and nannies for children to hydrate. On this 80 degree day, there were no sightings of water bottles or questions about the thirst of the children. This absence of water talk was notable.
With such a minuscule sampling this is not a case study in the difference between parenting playground cultures in our two bordering countries, just a brief observation.
Clearly, children in this setting were free to get as dirty as they liked and the whole scene was one of very relaxed and happy children and parents. Idyllic actually.
For more on the the topic of playgrounds check out Guest Blogger Amy Dickinson’s post: What Is Your Favorite Playground Memory?
And of course do share your neighborhood playground vibe, we love hearing from you!