This past Sunday the New York Times “Style” section had a front page feature about a wedding for a couple who first met when they were 10 years old at the Jefferson Elementary School playground in Maplewood. Isn’t it a strange thought that you may have already met your child’s future spouse while you were watching them play at the playground?
Though this couple met at 10, they didn’t get married until they were both 29 years old. They had lots of break ups and make ups, went to different high schools, colleges and traveled abroad. But in the end their connection to each other surpassed any other they had with other people.
Is this so unusual? I guess it is, but I can completely understand why it would happen to kids raised in towns like South Orange and Maplewood. In general, our communities pride themselves on being progressive, and tolerant. By being raised in a socially and racially integrated town our kids grow up with a real “world view.” Our kids aren’t conscious of this outlook until they are in high school or college, when they find they don’t have a lot in common with kids who come from largely homogenous suburbs.
Picture the friends and friendships your kids are having now on the playground. Hopefully, the kids come in different colors and socio-economic backgrounds. That’s exactly reflective of where this country is moving and its very hard for some people to get comfortable with that fact. But not our kids, they are living that reality right now.
The newlyweds featured in the New York Time article are also both hard working and independent – 2 more qualities our communities exemplify. The brides’ mom and dad had successful careers that demanded a daily NYC commute. I know how hard that can be since I did the same. I’d feel guilty about missing out on school activities with my kids or getting home early enough to help with science projects. But in the end I think modeling this behavior creates a strong work ethic which serves them extremely well as they become adults.
Now, the next time you go to the playground with your kids, look around at the kids they are interacting with. These early relationships can be quite telling. Could your future daughter or son in-law be running around right in front of you?
You can read the full story of their relationship here.