While I’m at the playground with my children, I see moments waiting to be captured. Sometimes this happens while I’m driving down the street or simply serving up dinner. One thing a photograph can’t do is tell the full story. The power of the photograph is to capture a moment. It isolates one part of the whole, one savory piece. The piece that will help you remember.
Here is my attempt to share a slice of life without a photograph.
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Today while I was watching my children play at the playground, I met a girl. She wore a purple coat.
There was a group of big kids playing tag with the fervor children still possess. They were mostly boys who haven’t hit puberty yet. There were a few girls, among them was the girl with the purple coat. She migrated around the playground with them, but didn’t join in the chase and smiles. As the game ended, the girls who had been playing tag left, and she continued to migrate with the boys, now a group of seven. I guessed that she must have been the sister to one of the boys.
My daughter wanted to be pushed on “the big swing” and the girl with the purple coat shyly joined us, sitting next to my daughter. She looked at me with her big light brown eyes and smiled quickly, then looked at my daughter as she started to swing. My little girl spoke with her volume set on high as she showed off her pumping skills, a little bit off rhythm with the swing. I pointed out that they both wore purple coats. My daughter volunteered that it was her second favorite color, and that she was three. I asked the girl with the purple coat how old she was, and she said ten. I would have guessed twelve.
Then, like the flip of a switch, my daughter was done swinging. She decided to chase her brother to the other side of the playground. The girl with the purple coat followed at a distance. I wondered why she was so shy. Then, she went off and sat alone. I wanted to go ask her if she was okay, but my kids had to be tracked like wild lion cubs. They are both still too young to be unsupervised at the playground. And both have entered their “climb everything” phase.
It was time to leave, and as I was putting my seat belt on I saw the girl with the purple coat again. The gang of boys were now playing in the field adjacent to the playground. There was a man with one of those throwing sticks that catapalts a ball farther than your arm. His dog was having a good time fetching balls. I watched for a minute. The girl went over and took a turn. The boys discovered the novelty and took over. She moved aside and stood off a few feet away from them.
I left wondering if she’d get another turn. I asked myself if I should have made more of an effort to talk to her, maybe compliment her purple coat. I think part of me felt the need to help her stand up for herself. To have the confidence to play with other kids, the boys, and not be left sitting alone. But, I am not her mother.
My own little girl with the purple coat has no qualms about playing with her brother and his friends. I hope that never changes.