It was a rainy day with nothing to do (how often does that happen, right?). My kids were going stir crazy, so I brought them to the mall to play in one of those play areas (which, admittedly, skeeve me out a bit when I think of all the picked noses and germs in there). I always douse my kids in hand sanitizer after, but try to focus on their fun while we’re in there. People are people — lots of kids play there.
On this particular day, there were two other parents from two other families watching their sons in the play area as well. Since “boys will be boys,” we watched our high-energy monkeys leap off fixtures that seemed a little too high to jump off of, screech a bit louder than we would have liked, balance on the very edge of climbing toys, slide down plastic cars, and bounce around to get wherever they wanted to go. We exchanged knowing glances and nods and an occasional laugh, as well as the triumphant sigh of relief when the kids jumped but didn’t fall.
Within just a few minutes, the boys shifted from playing family by family to interacting with each other, ultimately creating a hide and seek game to keep them busy in this enclosed little haven in the middle of the mall. They were having pure fun. With an occasional picked nose.
Did I mention that I’m a white suburban woman? Or that one of the other parents was a dad with the most beautiful, blackest of black skin? And that the other was a mother, with olive skin and a hijab framing her face and bright smile? No, I didn’t. It doesn’t matter to me. It certainly didn’t matter to the kids that day either. We were all just people, united in play, together for the joy and cringe-worthy moments of watching the kids let their energy out. There’s no pithy moral here. Just a reminder — or evidence, perhaps — that people are people. Character, not color.