1456672_10202454063092825_1047722648_nThe sheer physicality of the Spanish playground never ceases to astound me. A little less helicopter parenting, and a lot more Lord Of the Flies—that seems to be the rule of the land here.

There’s running and yelling, poking and pushing. Teachers supervise, but unless blood is involved, rarely intervene. Two weeks ago, my five-year old had a small bruise under his eye. I asked his teacher about it, and she explained that the kids play, “muy fuerte” and it would probably be better if he took off his glasses before recreo, to prevent bruising, or damage to the glasses.

My husband remarked, “Kinda like how some girls take their earrings off before starting a catfight?”

Yeah. Kinda like that.

By the way? Two days later, Joel broke his glasses during recreo.

My older son also spends a fair amount of time running, pushing, and talking his hybrid version of smack. He has a good friend, but there’s also a roving pack of kids that he has determined to be bad news. He isn’t afraid of them, but he doesn’t like them, either.

The mentality is that kids need to work out problems for themselves, and I agree with that, to a degree. Kids need to learn to be assertive, to recognize the power of their “No.” There is a measure of self-efficacy achieved by confronting challenges. I want confident kids. I want problem solvers.

But on the other hand, I kinda want to go to that schoolyard and kick some ass. Step off, ninos.

I don’t have a tidy answer to this. Over time, their language will improve, and they will have additional, and perhaps more colorful, words. At home, we will maintain our no-pummeling standards. We’ll listen. Watch. Pray.

We’ll remind ourselves that we made this choice for a reason—we want our kids to be challenged, to speak Spanish, and to look back and say, “I did something really, really hard….and I made it work.”

There’s a new statue under construction by my house. It’s the patron saint of my city, the Virgen de Regla. I pass it every day as we walk to school. I squeeze my sons’ hands a bit, as I turn my eyes to her. She’s a mother that knows a thing or two about parenting and heartbreak.

I think of her as I kiss my sons goodbye at the puerto of the school. I watch them as they head to their classrooms. As I walk away from the school, I still feel their phantom hands clasping mine.

I know I need to let go. But I never truly will.

One thought on “Recreo

  1. Oh playground politics, I’m over it as well. It might be best that they can’t understand all the words. And, as an Episcopal, I always found it somewhat odd the Mary worship. But then I became a mother 🙂 Love your adventures and the gift you are giving your sweet, sweet boys.

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