A Visit to the Park

Mark Upton
Aug 20, 2015

Recently I was down at our local park, participating in a family game of 2v2 football involving my son, partner and sister. In another section of the park a young boy (probably around 9/10 years of age) was being put through his paces by an adult (presumably his father) who had designed a couple of elaborate football drills involving many cones and poles.


I observed the boy closely for a while — his engagement level seemed ok, but I wouldn’t have said he was totally immersed and focused on the task at hand. Clearly the adult was calling the shots. I couldn’t help but contrast this with our game and the experience my son was involved in. He had created the rules for the game and was immersed in it as though it was a Champions League final.


A bit later the young boy was released from his drills and wandered past us. I noticed him glancing over at our game a couple of times, with what could be best described as a wistful expression (I would have invited him to join us if we weren’t about to finish up ourselves). Curious as to where he was headed, I kept an eye on him. He wandered to the playground and started to explore the equipment on offer, seemingly grateful to discover such a precious space where his autonomy and agency could be restored.