In many ways, the playground is a microcosm of the real world.
In this mini world, many actors and stakeholders act, react, and counter act.
Sometimes competing for the same resource and market, sometimes collaborating and forming alliances to achieve common interests and sometimes declaring outright war.
It never stays constant and is always evolving.
Indeed, it makes for a mini web of intrigue with its fair share of love, hate, betrayal, biting, clawing, third party interventions and what have you.
Sitting at the top of the food chain is the Bully. He is usually the largest and strongest kid on the block, but not necessarily so. By his sheer size or strength of influence, he is able to impose his rules on the playground, and perhaps even own the playground.
At the other extreme are the Small Fries. The little kids who just want to take a bite out of the playground pie. However, they submit to the Bully out of fear or ignorance, or sometimes out of practicality to ensure their own survival. Sometimes, they don’t submit, and the outcome can be disastrous. And there is little they can do but howl in protest.
Then, there are the niche companies and the Savvy kids who know that the way to protect themselves and flourish is to secure a niche for themselves. They stay out of the way of the bullies and find their own followers. They are not strong enough to take over the market, but they have what it takes to prosper.
There are the Policemen parents who make it their business to walk about the playground chiding the children for misbehaving. They sometimes exercise their own interpretation of the law, and take the law into their own hands. At other times, they are too busy or find it too convenient to notice the failings of their own children.
And there are the Bodyguards parents who go so far as to try and prevent their child from falling. As a result, these kids don’t know how to fall. In the short term, they work very well to prevent failure. In the long term, they do nothing to inculcate independence and are disastrous to the bottomline as they create a crutch mentality in that industry.
Much of what a child needed to know to survive in the real world can be learned at the playground.
As a parent, I have learned to loosen up, step back and get used to having my heart live in my mouth.
It isn’t easy and I am still learning.