State of play

Elmo with his waveboard

Elmo likes it here at our new place. This is because he could go out and play.
He could run up and down the road. He has been making friends. I am happy for him.

He could not do all these before, not where we previously lived (the gate of the compound leads to the busy main road where vehicles constantly pass). He also could not do this on the much wider street where his father and grandfather live. There are too many unknown characters on the "esquinitas" in that area (Josh's mugger lived there).

But now, because the townhouse has a gate of its own and a single uphill strip of road beyond that, I am confident Elmo will be safe.

He knows I am fine with it. When he arrives home from school, and if his schedule says it is time for outdoor play, he runs out with a smile on his face.

In the beginning, when we were new, he just walked up and down the road, surveying the houses in the two blocks that make up this community.

It also helps that the unit in front of us offers freshly-cooked snacks: fish balls, kikiam, banana cue, cheese sticks, French fries.

And then, two of Elmo's classmates live close by. Kelly lives next door while Andrei lives just across the road.

In fact, at this moment, Elmo and Kelly and several of their other classmates are at Andrei's home, watching a movie, relieved that their fourth long test has just ended.

But there are other kids as well. A tall, 11-year-old girl is ELmo's constant badminton playmate.

He has also been waveboarding, although some kid broke the wheels of his board and it is now awaiting replacement.

PLaying outdoors is a great experience for a child. I remember going out myself, many years ago -- to learn to ride a bike, to catch dragonflies and put them in a jar (yes we set them free before night fell), play patintero, mataya-taya, syato, and "bon-bon" racket (similar to badminton).

My playmates and I tried to climb aratilis trees and sucked the sweet red fruit.

Of course today, children would have more alternatives. There is cable TV and the Internet for Elmo's indoor playing, for instance. He has his robots and toy cars in a gray plastic box he carries around. He also dabbles in crafts (paper formers, origami, etc) and plays the violin.

But I think a child is most a child when he comes into the house at mealtime, sweaty and dirty and tired and happy from play.