When we arrived at the playground it was empty. We had the entire wooden structure to ourselves. As soon as he was freed from the stroller, Shane bolted for the nearest entry point.
He made quick work of the ladders, threw himself down the slides, scurried on his hands and knees through the tunnels, and thundered across the bridges.
He was master of the playground, king of his castle, full of confidence and self-assurance.
And then another family arrived.
They were big boys — elementary school aged. One looked to be about kindergarten or first grade, the other around third or fourth.
They made quick work of the ladders, threw themselves down the slides, scurried on their hands and knees through the tunnels, and thundered across the bridges.
They were bigger, faster, louder.
Shane shrank back when they tumbled past, then cautiously observed them from a safe vantage point. He watched, quiet and contemplative, as they chased and tagged, climbed and leaped, shouted and argued and laughed.
Overwhelmed and awed, he hung back and watched their play.
I wonder what he was thinking, what he was longing for.
Was it to be that big? That daring? That agile?
Was he wishing he could conquer the playground like them?
Or was he wishing for a companion — someone to run from and chase after,
someone to bicker and laugh with, someone to share the playground with?
Or was he just simply watching two older boys at play? Just taking it all in, and filing it all away in his mind for his own future playground adventures?
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