- Personal Stories & Opinions>
- Kids Playing in the Street in Latin America
Back when I was a kid in elementary school, I went outside with a friend of mine named Paul to play a form of dodgeball that might sound peculiar to you.
There were some neighborhood kids across the streets that were playing baseball or something.
Then we all decided to start throwing rocks at each other.
You see, normal dodgeball is lame.
No real skin in the game.
If you’re going to play, it has to be with stones.
Shit that can hurt you badly.
Unfortunately, I was only like 6 or 7 or some shit and so a bit young to be playing stone dodgeball.
And though I like to think I got a few good hits in, I was the one who arguably lost given one of the rocks thrown at me hit the top of my head just right.
It didn’t feel painful from what I remember but managed to cut deep into the top of the head just right for A LOT of blood to be coming down.
Some old woman passing by noticed the blood on my head and told me about it.
Oddly enough, I somehow didn’t notice right away.
Put my hand on the top of my head and saw all the blood on my hand.
“Oh well, I guess I lost. That sucks.”
Soon enough, my parents took me to the hospital to get it fixed and that was it.
Since then, I remember playing outside often with Paul and other kids in any of the two neighborhoods that I grew up in.
It wasn’t uncommon to see kids playing outside wherever I lived.
Now, whenever I go back home for a visit from Mexico, I don’t see any kids playing outside in either neighborhood.
Granted, I don’t hang out long enough since I’m only ever home for maybe a week or two weeks at most.
But it’s something I’ve noticed.
Over the years since I was a kid, it feels like most people stay inside more than they did when I was a kid.
Basically no kids outside whatsoever and all of the adults locking themselves inside angry to ever get a knock on the door.
Always acting very suspicious at anyone knocking by.
Granted, as I wrote here, plenty of Mexicans can be suspicious also when answering the door and won’t even open it until you respond to their “QUIEN?!?”
But, in contrast to Mexico, I would say I do see more people outside in general down here than back home.
First, you have the obvious factor in which most people can walk to their destination from their home so that obviously makes the streets a little more noticeably occupied.
But when it comes to kids playing, you certainly notice more of that down here than up in the US.
It’s something I was reminded of as I moved to a neighborhood of Mexico City called Pedregal de Santo Domingo recently.
Soccer, Bikes & Concerned Parents
Over the last few days since moving here, I’ve simply seen more kids playing outside than I have in any other neighborhood of Mexico City.
The usual game, as you can imagine, is soccer.
Back when I lived in Santo Domingo before over a year ago, there was a group of kids playing soccer on the exact same street I lived on.
I remember one afternoon when some window was broken by the activity of the kids and it caused some very annoyed parents to be negotiating how to handle the damage.
Though I didn’t see the accident happen, I just assume it must’ve involved the kids and their soccer games given the context of their discussions as I walked outside.
Still, the kids kept on playing soccer.
And, up to today as I moved here recently, I see soccer being played on a few streets.
As I was walking to my apartment a few days ago, I saw some kids playing soccer on the same street I live on.
Thankfully, no broken windows.
Similarly, I went to eat some salchipapa today and saw kids playing on a bike while I was waiting for my food.
All around, despite this neighborhood having a reputation of being more dangerous, you see parents seemingly at ease with trusting their kids to be outside playing games in a very urban neighborhood.
I’d imagine that too many parents back home would be concerned with having their kids play like that in an area like Santo Domingo.
But, fortunately for them, it seems more kids up north are more concerned with video games perhaps.
I can’t judge and be a boomer here – I liked my own video games as a kid.
Still, there’s one other thing to mention on this topic.
More Common in Poorer Areas?
This is a theory I have but I’m not going to stand by it too strongly because I’m not sure how accurate it is.
I don’t want to make it seem like all kids in all of Mexico and all of broader Latin America are more active outside necessarily than kids back home.
In general, I think that is probably true given that more kids walk around than use cars to get around down here versus kids back home in the US.
And we’re comparing urban life in Mexico City to life in small town Iowa.
Still, not all of Mexico City is like this.
I’ve never seen kids just playing out and being free in places like El Centro, Roma Norte, Condesa, by Copilco area of Mexico City, by Cuatro Caminos area, by Pantitlan area, etc.
It really has only been noticeable so far by Pedregal de Santo Domingo and a very few select but also poorer areas of Mexico City that I’ve seen.
But, to be fair, places like Pantitlan or Cuatro Caminos are poorer too so it's not like every poor area has kids playing outside either.
Similar to Santo Domingo though, when I lived in a Mexican city called Pachuca, I never saw kids just being kids outside except in parks in normal areas or when I one time went up in the hills of the city that are supposedly more dangerous and poorer.
So part of me does wonder if poorer areas of urban places like Mexico City have more of this behavior outside?
I have no idea.
Just shooting the shit here based on what I’ve noticed.
Still, regardless of where it’s more common, I’ll say again that, generally speaking, it does feel like maybe kids are a little more active outside down here than up there in the US.
At least where I live now, it reminds me almost like the days when I was a kid in the late 1990s to early 2000s.
Anything to Add?
It’s another one of those “small topics” about life in Latin America.
I’ve only noticed it again and decided to write about it given I was reminded of this as I moved back to Pedregal de Santo Domingo just a few days ago.
It’s not much to say except that, as I said, you generally notice more activity outside and it does stand in contrast perhaps to life back home nowadays.
Granted, when I say life back home, I can only speak for where I grew up.
Maybe other parts of the US are different.
Anyway, I think some other gringos might agree with me on this but everyone’s life experience is different.
So let’s leave it at that.
It’s a small topic to life down here but not overly important so let’s move on.
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Thanks for reading.