Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Soccer Field

During our dog's adolescence we hung out in dog parks in the evening. Absolutely parallel to children's parents, dog owner's love to see their charges getting exercise, socializing, and providing entertainment and fodder for conversation for onlookers. Every possible dog/owner combination exists, the one's who keep the dog's leash on and then cling for dear life, the one's who bring balls and then proceed to intervene on dog squabbles, the one's who insist on dog training in the midst of "play time", the one's who tell you the dog's pedigree or every possible aliment, etc., etc. You get my point, it's great people watching for free. There is something about us that wants to be a spectator. Whether it is watching TV, reading facebook entries, or taking your dog or kid to the park.

As adults we also like to multi-task, if we are taking the dog or kid to the park we are "on duty", being responsible pet owners or parents. We aren't just going to the park to "chill", kick back and generally admit to being someone with extra time on our hands to space out and stare at the sky for no good reason. This "down" time is understood to be productive and worthy so we don't have to feel guilty for being a slacker.

Another big advantage of the dog park or kid's park is the built in subject for conversation. Let's face it, chit-chat can be work, at least for me. Even the most introverted among us are social beings and yearn for something to "bond" about, that commonality that will make it easy to be together. Bystanders to the action, we are still part of the experience because we can take away the story, "remember when so and so did the face plant off the monkey bars?"

Now that our children are in their adolescence, we are no longer at the playground, we've replaced it with the soccer field. We come and go to games and or practices 5 out of 7 days a week. We see the same families year after year but we often don't see them anyplace other than at soccer. We share a comraderie, war stories such as "remember when the tornado siren went off and we madly biked home ahead of the black clouds." We soak up the sunshine on hillsides and share snacks or grumble and groan together on the sidelines when our team is getting badly beaten. Sometimes grandparents or aunts and uncles drop by. It feels good to be hanging out, feeling the weather, laughing, yelling and sharing a "third place".

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