One of the things I noticed immediately when I arrived in Morocco for the first time was that children play together. Outside. Without supervision.
They are engaged in a game of soccer. Or a board game on the sidewalk. Or just running through the streets.
In fact a couple of weeks ago I saw two one-year-olds outside. They could hardly stand up. Without the bush that they were holding on to, I think they would’ve fallen over. Perhaps they did fall down, but I’m sure they got back up just fine. After all, how else would they learn?
They were also unsupervised. People walked by. Maybe the man laying under a tree across the way was watching over them, I don’t know.
But as far as I know, they didn’t disappear. Or die. Or even “hurt” themselves.
An element of trust
And I can’t help but think it’s because the people here take the time to get to know each other. Have a cup of tea together. Help each other out. Get to know the families in the village or neighbourhood, building a community of trust rather than one of fear. Because of this, I think caregivers trust that their children will be fine should they decide to go outside and play.
An element of fear
Somewhere along the way, we’ve become afraid of letting children out of sight. Letting them be children, free to roam around. Perhaps we read too many news reports of unfortunate stories. Or it’s easier to put on a movie. So starting from birth with the baby registry, we fill our houses to the rafters with expensive toys and our cars with DVD players.
But what about natural discovery? Allowing children to head outside and make their own fun. Finding their own sources of entertainment. Being active. The lack of expensive toys, computers and video games may just be the solution to the child obesity problem we see throughout North American culture.
A soccer net here is typically two rocks, and the ball is usually flat. But it doesn’t matter. They are outside. With friends. Having fun. Laughing. Being children!