“Where are their parents?” The words went through my head, as I sat next to the window eating dinner. Three young children played below on the concrete sidewalk that framed one of the main entrances to the Vancouver shopping mall.
Two girls, who looked to be around 5 and 7 years old, knelt side-by-side on the sidewalk. A boy toddled about, picking berries from one of the ornamental plants by the parking lot. I hoped that the berries wouldn’t find their way into the child’s mouth, thinking they might be toxic.
Instead, he carried the fruits to his playmates, who used the juice to draw images on the sidewalk. I looked at the scene with judgmental eyes, framed from my own disdain for people who pilfer flowers from my yard, often discarding the mutilated plants a few steps away, and who seemingly have little respect for the effort and resources that go into beautifying one’s neighborhood.
Five minutes passed, and an adult male appeared from inside the mall. He beckoned the kids to get into their minivan that was waiting nearby in a no-parking zone. The oldest girl said something to him and then ran back to complete her drawing.
When she finished a few seconds later, she scurried back to the vehicle and climbed inside. The side door slammed shut and the minivan motored away. I shook my head, disgusted by the idea that the adults were teaching children to disregard society’s rules. When I finished eating, I walked down to the first floor to see what they had made, expecting to see nothing more than meaningless scribbles.
A wry smile formed on my lips as I read the words on the sidewalk, and I felt my own judgment return to me to be re-examined with a different perspective. The kids were doing no harm really–children simply playing outside of the sometimes silly rules that we adults set up for ourselves.
I pulled out my camera and photographed the words penned from the juice of an Oregon Grape plant, so aptly created from the heart of an innocent child. I Love. I hope— living words, so much more vibrant than old, archaic rules demanding that one cannot have fun and fully live life in the moment.
The words scrawled on the sidewalk served as a gentle reminder to me to once again release one more way of framing the world through the lens of only seeing life as right or wrong.
I breathe. I love. I am. I thank them for their precious gift.