I shouldn’t have been so surprised when my 5-yr old son, Jaden, jumped right into a pickup game of keep-away outside my sister-in-law’s home where we are staying in a small village near Munich. He has spent the last 3 years with German-speaking kids at his co-op preschool in SW Portland. But it made me proud to see him mix it up with kids 3 years older than him with no sign of intimidation. I watched for a while and then began to feel awkward for him since he was the only kid with a parent hovering over his shoulder. So I followed the other parents lead and disappeared into the backyard. After a few minutes it hit me, MY 5-YR OLD IS PLAYING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.
Questions immediately started running through my brain. What happens if the ball runs out under a passing car and my determined-to-win son sacrifices his life for the game? What if that big bully decides to pull out his glock and cap the cocky American kid? Wait a second, where is his 3-yr old sister? Am I a bad parent? Turns out I’m not. Judging by the number of kids playing keep-away or riding their bikes or walking barefoot across an empty field to a neighbors play structure (my daughter) every child in the entire village under the age of 16 was spending Sunday having fun in the middle of the street far from the watchful eye of one of their parents. Now this is what I came here to see…I have to learn more!