A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy
I’ve been watching babies, toddlers, and preschool kids a lot lately. With nice weather, they appear outside with their moms, everywhere, like naturally free wildflowers do in in the springtime fields.
Nine months ago, a young family moved in next door: Mama Bear, Pappa Bear and Four Baby Bears, all under the age of nine. Although I knew they were there, and saw them on their way to school and karate practice, they were relatively silent and invisible all winter and spring.
This past weekend, the weather started a sustained hot-spell. Dad spent most of one afternoon installing a canopy, splashing pool and swings set. As soon as the installations were complete, as though on cue … out of the house emerged two screeching and laughing daughters, a slightly quieter son, the mom and baby.
For the rest of the weekend, the kids played in the backyard, chatting, chortling and throwing water at each other. This was natural freedom at its most joyful expression. Occasional spongy balls, towels or flip-flops would find their way over the fence into my backyard. The kids didn’t hesitate to shout my name as loudly and as prolonged as necessary to get my attention… Hey, they were just exhibiting their rights of natural freedom…. They even transformed the three syllables of my first name into multiple singsong melodies … distinct songs, same intentions:
- They enjoyed playing sound games singing my name
- They really did want me to get the ball back to their side of the world
For the first time in years, the neighborhood was truly alive with a natural freedom of speech. The kids engaged each other in and out of the pool, on and off the swing set… supervised only through the wall of windows along the back of their home. No adults interfered with their play. No adults limited their voices. No adults put restrictions on their volume. … They were free and full of energy, life force and creativity.
As I listened to the little kids wind down toward bedtime, two thoughts came to mind:
FirstThought: “I finally got the meaning to a Jim Morrison poem:
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are … That kind of freedom can’t be granted. Nobody can win it for you.”
Second Thought: Last week, like a mad cheerleader, I easily coaxed 500 high school students, parents, teachers and school administrators alike to stand on the hard bleachers and “shake their booties” half way through the insufferably long, boring High School Scholarship Awards Event (see previous BOBB story, High School Scholarship Night.
Something totally out of the norm for these sorts of rituals occurred… We all laughed and played with the natural freedom of the little kids next door.
photo by shinazy