Kids know the unwritten, unspoken rules during play time. They just do.
There are rules about cutting in line. There are rules on the kickball court. And there are rules — both said and unsaid — in public play areas like Sky Zone or Paradise Park. It has amazed me watching my daughter Addy, over the years, acclimate to and understand these rules.
At a recent spring break trip to Sky Zone, the Lee’s Summit attraction was filled with kids (mostly boys it seemed) and one somewhat brave dad (me) that always jumps with his kiddo.
Telling Addy we are going to Sky Zone or Paradise Park elicits virtually the same shriek as if I was informing her Christmas was coming early this year.
As she gets older, though, I am super aware of how she interacts with other kids in public settings. Sure, she has her shy moments, but generally Addy is fairly trusting and usually has no issue engaging or meeting other kiddos her age.
When those kids are older — and boys — though, Addy probably is a little timid in her interactions. Lately at Sky Zone, she’s been into the basketball dunking area. So is her dad. Although I would hate to watch the video of me going sky-high only to jam the ball into the rim and miss the dunk, Addy finds it highly entertaining to bounce, shoot, repeat. Usually, that station is dominated by boys and this day was no different.
While I took an occasional turn at the hoop, I mostly sat back and watched Addy wait in line, the boys tossing the ball to her when they were done, then taking her turn at the basket.
As is the case anytime at a place like this, kids are going to bump into one another, the basketball is going to fly out of control and, well, boys will be boys. We can all relate.
Any indiscretion, though, came with an apology, a simple “sorry” to which Addy would say, “that’s OK” followed by her patented “dada, just to tell you…” This is her standard line when I am about to hear something that she finds serious or thought-provoking.
It was another opportunity, as well, for me to talk to her about kindness. It’s a word she hears often at her school and most certainly at both mom and dad’s homes. She spots the words of kindness posted in downtown Lee’s Summit and many times a week we talk about what it means to fill buckets, be a leader and a listener.
I know the boys aren’t always going to be nice to her. Heck, the girls may not either. As parents, we can’t be there in every social situation to guide and protect our kids.
What I can hope for — and continue to be hopeful for — is that her kindness compass will always be with her, no matter the situation. And when the inevitable happens, that we respond with kindness instead of vitriol or anger.
During this election season in Lee’s Summit, there is likely no greater lesson, either.
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.