Sunday, June 19, 2011

Park Parenting

We go fairly consistently to one particular park. Not only does it have a fairly adequate play structure in terms of fun, but it's also a dumping ground for everyone's unwanted toys. There are bikes, cars, play kitchens, ect... all over the place and, one would think it ought to be a place you could sit back and let your child run rampant.

One would think.

I tend to sit back on a picnic blanket and read, write, or knit. I trust that K will come find me if he needs my assistance, and I trust that he's not some sort of mean-spirited child who wants to hurt others.

It's rare that I see any other mothers doing this. I really and truly don't get it.

I don't really WANT K to be dependent on me for his protection, his fun, his creativity, ect... Those are all great parenting qualities, and I DO hope that I provide them when needed, but at the park? When there's something like a hundred other little children to play with? And toys? And sand and water?

The thing is, I DO play with K at the park if there's no one else there. Or if I can tell he's bored or if he asks me to participate more directly. But I don't see other parents doing that.

Instead, they come to the park with the intention of following behind their kid and intercepting whenever there's the slightest indication of...well...anything.

You can tell that the kids would rather their parents disappeared for a bit. Especially as one of the most common spots to play is underneath the main play structure where adults CAN'T reach them.

The parents even acknowledge that their children have just run under a wooden play structure to get away from them and they STILL don't sit back!


It probably shouldn't bother me as much as it does except that it makes me feel as though I should be on guard. If K falls...which does happen...other mothers SWOOP in ( can feel the breeze!) and start  offering all sorts of comfort and calling around for his Mum. Meanwhile, K is frantically trying to get away from them but they WON'T physically let go of him because, to their eyes, he has just had a horrible fall and certainly can't be alright.

I'm not kidding this has happened several times.

One time, K came running toward me from across the park with THREE mothers following on his heels. He was a bit frantic, I gave him a hug, and he managed to say, "Make Ladies Stop". At this point, the other women had come up on us and one asked me, fairly rudely, if this was my child. I said yes, as K clung tightly to me looking away from them. She then announced that he had fallen. I turned to K and asked if he had fallen, and he nodded yes and described REALLY WELL how he had fallen. I asked if he was alright and he said "Yup" and ran off to play. The other Mothers were APPALLED that I didn't do more.


If my kid isn't upset, then I'm not going to MAKE him upset by making a bigger deal out of a fall than it is!

But, more often, I have to be on guard about the whole sharing thing. Which is ludicrous. This park is filled with toddlers who are being CONSTANTLY yelled at by their parents to share this and give take wait for turns. K shares more often than not, but everyone gets so uptight about it that I feel as though I need to have an eye open for ANY and ALL altercations that involve some other parents perception of what constitutes 'good' sharing.

And, lastly, there's the whole thing where everyone treats their child as though they're incapable of fending for themselves. Sometimes K is rough about grabbing toys, or playing in the sand near smaller children. The parents WIG out because god forbid their child get any sand in their hair...

Idk, whenever I talk about this it sounds as though I'm advocating a Lord of the Flies situation, which I'm not, but I strongly believe in first giving children the chance to work through whatever presents itself as a problem. EVEN if one of the children is much younger.

And by that, I mean, before I jump in to smooth out a toy situation where K was the aggressor, I expect the other child to let me know that what was done to him or her was undesirable. Even a baby can speak up for themselves with a cry or a sad face directed towards K.

Because, it's very hard to explain why something was a not so nice thing to do when the other involved child isn't displaying ANY sign of being bothered. Instead, it's their parents who are taking the role of protection a bit too seriously (in my opinion) and speaking for their child because it seemed like a bad thing IN THEIR EYES.

So, in sum, going to the park is not as chill as it really should be. It's a lot of work even when I'm sitting back knitting, and I can't help but attribute it to my uncomfortableness with mainstream parenting.

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