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A Study of Character: At the Park

MP900202010As a mother of a five year old boy, I find that I frequent the local parks quite a bit. In fact, it is probably my most visited location besides the grocery store since my son’s birth. In spending a lot of time at playgrounds, I’ve discovered a true writing treasure- the ability to study a wide variety of characters and the basic human condition in just an hour or two of doing my most important job of all- “being mom”.

Want to get a good glance at an array of human behaviors from antagonistic, insecure, mischievous to friendly, confident, and intuitive? Just take a trip to the park, and let this small playground world give a glimpse into the bigger world. It’s a cast of characters waiting to be plucked for a story or novel, or just to be studied to understand reactions to certain situations. It’s humanity raw with all the complexities of adulthood stripped away. It’s the simplicity of behaviors at the most infant stage. Friendships are forged in a matter of one slide down the big red twisty slide. Or witness that awkward moment when no one can agree on what to play, or personalities clash like a display of colorful fireworks. It’s all there to see for anyone willing to watch. It’s where priceless moments are created and children learn to belong, or just find out how annoying some kids can really be. But the kids aren’t the only illuminating presences at the park. Some of the most interesting playground lurkers are the parents themselves.

The parents can be just as interesting to study and quite revealing in how their actions (or non action) affect others. Parents tend to fall into three categories: the sit back parent, the occasional intervention parent, and the helicopter parent. I say parent, because in this modern age many dads accompany their children to the park, but the majority still falls with the moms. Anyways, depending on the type of parent, the play between children can become aggravated or alleviated by the adults. This intervention or non intervention causes a myriad of situations that makes for a more interesting study. While one sit back parent lets her son throw dirt all over the place and into other kid’s eyes, another helicopter parent might feel keen on scolding the child or confronting the sit back parent, leaving the occasional intervention parent to simply take his/her child to another section of the park all together.

The playground is where all the basic emotions (anger, jealousy, melancholy, happiness, ect.) can be found from the floundering child to the overprotective mom, as well as, the cause and effect of actions and reactions between the little people and the big people. It’s a world of discovery waiting to be found, not only for the budding child, but the budding writer as well. Want a good place to study characters? Just take a walk in the park.

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