There are many things that make this moment of the pandemic in Brazil complicated.

But navigating the situations that I find myself in as a mother are some of the trickier ones.

This little girl lives down the street from us. And is a good friend of my girls.

Olinda, where we live, is an incredibly diverse city. Especially where we live.

The square beside our house, on a normal afternoon, is full of children. Some of the richest in the country. And some of the poorest.

But when it comes to running around the square, playing hide and seek, riding bikes and scooters, social class just doesn’t come into the equation.

Then COVID-19 happened. And social distancing. Bubbles. Quarantining.

There are a couple of families in our neighbourhood that we are managing to interact with. Everyone is taking the necessary precautions. And it means our children can at least play with other children.

But this little girl comes from a very poor family. I’ve never met her parents. But she is in the square on her own with other children from her family regularly. The children walk the streets on their own. There are numerous people who live in the house. And there certainty isn’t any social distancing or bubbles.

As a result, I had to say no to play dates with this little girl, and others from her family.

It broke my heart. But it’s the reality of the moment we are living in.

But then this happened. (And has been happening every day for the past month from 3:30pm until dinner time)

This weekend, for the first time in a month, I decided to let the girls play in the square again. It was so lovely to see everyone together (wearing masks, but at least they were all together running around).

As I was putting the girls to bed, it was clear they were so happy to have seen their friends. But some interesting observations came up.

One, that had clearly been seen months before, was brought up by Bia my 10 year old, saying the family has a sofa made of bricks. Bia said so positively, “but it’s a very creative solution. I can’t imagine it’s that comfortable to sit on. But such a great idea. And quite beautiful”.

I couldn’t help think that THIS is why it is so important to expand your personal circle. To not only spend time with people exactly like you. To walk in other people’s shoes. Be empathetic. Understand another person’s reality.

Because once you’re able to do that. You can empathize. You realise there are numerous ways to do things. No one way is better or worse. You become more thoughtful. More human.

In my mind, THAT’S what makes great leaders. They truly understand that there are many ways to do things and live. That your beliefs, background or the way you do things doesn’t make you better or worse than anyone else.

Just simply, different.

It warms my heart that these children are growing up together. It’s great for Bia and Maya. And it’s great for the children from that house. Who knows what the future has in store. But I hope that they will know each other well into the future.

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