Playground Etiquette

No Comments

In the past, I’ve used this blog for rants, reviews, and other things that are not pertinent to my music whatsoever. Today, I will continue with that trend and post another blog entry that has nothing to do with music.

I went to the playground today with Zoey. We have been at this playground many times before. Sometimes there are a lot of toddlers there. Sometimes there are bigger kids 7-10 year olds) there. The playground is set up in such a way that everything is connected by “bridges” and the East side of this structure is clearly for smaller kids and the West half of the (huge) structure is taller and more suitable to bigger kids.

I’m a hover parent. Some say this is a bad thing, but Zoey is only 2, and sometimes I do have to catch her to keep her from falling off of things or banging her head into stuff. I feel that it also helps to have me there to teach her about proper playground etiquette, like “Wait until the other kid gets off the slide before going down”, “We don’t walk up the slide backwards because others could come down and hurt you,” and “Sit on your bottom to go down the slide so you don’t hurt your hands/face/head.” Apparently not every parent took the time to teach their kids the correct way to play on the equipment…

So Zoey and I are at the playground today and she is sliding down the small kid’s slide when a boy of about 6-7 years old decides to try to climb up the slide while she’s getting off of it. If the kid was 2 or 3, I would be more sympathetic. But a 7 year old boy? (eye roll) The mom laughed uncomfortably while looking at me, and saying in a rather babyish voice, “Now Charlie (I don’t remember his actual name), that’s not the right way….” more laughing. She continued this uncomfortable laughing and it was clear that she wanted me to say something to her – – like we were going to be friends or something. I. don’t. think. so. lady. I encouraged Zoey to try out the tunnel slide again to nudge her away from this boy and his mom.

I wasn’t even paying attention to the small family of young monsters that were playing around the tunnel slide until the blonde boy (about 6 years old) let out a scream and threw a cry-fit while tugging all over his dad’s clothes. One of the boys said, “Did I kick him?” The dad said, “No, his sister shoved him because it wasn’t his turn.” Evidently, in that family it is ok to shove if someone tries to take something that is rightfully yours. Then I looked over to take in the whole scene…..and…it…was……stupid.

The dad was holding back the whining, crying blonde kid while the daughter was climbing up the top of the tunnel slide. Not inside the slide, mind you…which would still be incorrect but slightly less dangerous….but on TOP of the tunnel itself. It looked like he had 3 kids, all somewhere between 5 and 8 years old, and was having them take turns to climb up the slide that was obviously designed for toddlers on the small side of the playground. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

I was not in the mood to deal with stupid parenting today. I said to one of the other moms (loudly), “Gee, I wish there was a sign that tells people how to go down the tunnel slide….but it seems pretty self-explanatory to me….” The dad heard me, and said, “Gabby…maybe we shouldn’t climb up the slide…ummm,…” He sounded like he was afraid to tell his kids not to climb up the slide, because they probably wouldn’t listen to him anyway. And to credit, he’s probably right. He probably let them climb up the slide like that for years…how can they understand a sudden change in rules?

I said, (loudly again so that he could hear, even though he was avoiding eye contact with me), “I can’t have my toddler walking around near the slide where other kids may fall on her….looks like we have to go.” The dad started to mutter something about, “Kids, maybe we shouldn’t climb on the slide….” MAYBE? Why does he even bother standing there? I picked up Zoey, “I’m sorry sweety, we’re going to have to go now because the other kids are not well-behaved.”

I carried her out to the car…she cried a little on the way. We were at the playground for more than 30 minutes, so I think it was fair even though I hated making her leave when she was doing everything right. I reassured her that she was very polite, but the other kids were dangerous. As I looked back from the car, I saw the little monster children still climbing up the tunnel slide on the toddler side of the playground. I held all of my anger and frustration in as I slowly drove away from the park.

Maybe I was mean. Maybe I wasn’t seen as the “cool mom” at the playground today. But the way *I* see it, my #1 priority is making sure my kid doesn’t get hurt. Period. My #2 priority is making sure my kid doesn’t hurt other kids, especially those that are younger than her. Being ‘cool’ with the other parents on the playground falls in pretty low on the list of things that are expected of me at the playground.

As I was driving home, I was thinking, “What would I have done if one of those kids HAD fallen on her???” I guess it depends on the severity of her injuries…but considering how high that tunnel slide is (when you are standing on the TOP of it), and how big those kids were in comparison to Zoey, if one had fallen on her I would probably have to take her in to the pediatrician just to make sure she was ok, at the least.

The more I thought about it, the more I considered what the “procedure” was for this kind of thing. I guess if my child were seriously injured by another kid on the playground, I would first call the pediatrician or paramedics, then call the police to file a report against the other parent. Notice I said PARENT, because it is the parent’s responsibility to control the kids until they are 18. Then I guess I would call a lawyer to file a lawsuit. I hear you thinking, “Really? She would sue someone for hurting her kid?” You bet your sweet little baby’s bottom I would. I’m not talking about little accidents….those things happen. But if I’m standing there telling you quite openly that I think your kid is going to fall off the tunnel slide onto smaller kids and you fail to get your undisciplined heathens to use the equipment properly and someone does get hurt…’ll be seeing me again at the court house.  I think they call it “negligence”, or something like that. I hope you did’t have a job working with children or handicapped people….because you’ll likely have to find another job too.  You’re welcome.

Luckily, that scenario will probably never play itself out – because my job is to keep my kid safe, even if it means offending other parents in the process.  And I’m not one of those parents that stands by idly and ‘begs’ my kid to do the right thing. If anything, THAT is the most pathetic and un-cool thing I’ve seen all day.