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Sunday, May 12, 2013

People Watching

Who knew one of the greatest lessons in life would be learned while at a youth event in Fort Collins Colorado.  It was July 1986, I was 15 years old, my teacher was a girl from my youth group.  I don't remember her name but I will never forget the lesson she taught me that day in the cafeteria.  It all started with her asking if I want to hang out.  I said heck ya, she was cute! Anytime spent with her would be fun for sure!  So we went to a bench and sat.  After a few minuets of nothing happening I asked "what are we doing"?  Her answer "we are people watching".  She said it like it was a sport.  I could not figure out what she was talking about, people watching?!?  What is that?  She told me to watch someone and try to figure them out, what they were doing, where they were from, what they are thinking about ect.  The better the story you can come up the better the people watching.

After about 10 minuets of intense people watching another girl from the youth group sat down and joined the people watching group.  The two of them appeared to be excellent people watchers, they knew every thing about every one.  Before I knew it I was sucked into the game.  See that person he seams upset, maybe his girlfriend is cheating on him.  And that guy, he's a mess I think he stayed up all night.  We talked about everyone we saw.  The stories about the others in the cafeteria went on and on.  I am guessing we were wrong about everyone, but it was fun watching.

A couple weeks ago I took my daughter Ananda to Super Bounce so she could play on the inflatable structures.  Ananda was having the time of her life.  Me I was waiting with all the other parents, hoping the hour would go by quick.  Then as I looked around the room and saw all the other parents people my people watching skills kicked in.

I quickly realize there are several types of parents.  There is the book reading, leave me alone parent.  This parent doesn't look up much, if a kid starts screaming they keep reading.   This parent seams to believe that their child will always be fine. Then there is the hoverer parent.  You know the type that will not allow their child out of their sight. This parent stands by the giant inflatable toy and watches the kid's every move.  This is a mom who is constantly asking the kid if he or she is ok.  Like the kid can get seriously hurt falling on a inflated rubber toy. But should something happen she is ready with a first aid kit in her purse. Poor kid can't breath without mommy's help.

Then there is a hyper competitive dad; this guy turns the giant blow up obstacle course into a competition.  This guy breaks out his iphone and starts timing his kid with the digital stop watch app.  This guy is fun to watch because to get a accurate time he must run along the outside of the thing to be at the end when his kid pops out.  I am sure this kid will care he shaved off 2 seconds from his first time.  WOW! Geez dad. Let the kid play and have fun. Your son is not preparing for the Olympics at the local Super Bounce. 

Then there is the social butterfly parent.  These moms have never met a stranger, just a friend they haven't met yet .  These moms are setting up "play dates" for their little angels with the total stranger in no time.  In a way, I admire these people. To them there are no evil people with bad intentions.  I guess I am way too jaded to be one of them.  Guess it would help if I actually liked people.

So after an hour of hanging out at the local Super Bounce with Ananda, I was reminded of how much I enjoy people watching.  People are crazy and funny and if you watch them long enough they will make you laugh.  As for me, I find myself somewhere in between a hoverer and an uninvolved parent.  I want to spend time with Ananda, I want to see her having fun, but I also know she needs space to have fun on her own and be independent.  And if she gets hurt I will know it's serious when the crying reaches the second hour.  Well the family is home now so off to people watching in my living room.  I know these people are nuts.