Tuesday, August 16, 2011
No Fun Allowed.
The three year old has a play group. We met at the park yesterday. It's a large park with two play structures a large grassy area, a basket ball court and trees to climb. It was busy with lots of kids and their caretakers.
I have always found park politics tricky. Different rules, hurt feelings, the uncontrollable momma bear - it's a recipe for difficulty. It's enough to negotiate who's turn it is on the swing/slide/whatever. Then there's the snack comparisons - curse you Oreo packing moms! Who can forget the joy of hitting, bitting, excluding - uuugh.
As school is still out a couple of us had our 'bigs' with us. Our bigs are eight. Last I checked eight still qualifies as a child.
I've noticed before that there are not many kids older than six at the park - where are they all?
My eight year old still finds swings and slides entertaining. She's definitely into trying gymnastic maneuvers on the play structure but she's considerate and shares. I was aware that our bigs were getting dirty looks. How dare they bring their long limbs and loud voices to the outdoor play area! Where is their place?
I kept a close eye to keep the peace. Then she arrived. You could tell immediately from her body language and facial expression she was not happy to be at a park. She was likely around fifty and seemed to be out of breath walking up the park incline. With her was a little boy about five. She walked to the very back of the park and sat in the shade at a picnic bench. Immediately unpacking some food and her phone. The little boy ran off to play. Next thing I know she's grumpily telling off the bigs.
"If he gets hurt I'll get in trouble because I'm responsible for him."
Good to know she isn't actually concerned about him being hurt - only that she'll be in trouble. She walks back to her spot thirty feet away. She came back over a couple of times to grump at the bigs. I watched. I rehearsed my speech in my head:
That I didn't think the kids were being rough or doing anything to endanger any child. That perhaps she should stay closer to him or (gasp) play with him if she was concerned. That perhaps she shouldn't look after children as she obviously doesn't want to and taking it out on my kid is completely UNACCEPTABLE.
I said none of these things. I watched and got angry in my head. I explained to my kid that I was completely happy with her behaviour and she could walk away from the lady if she approached. I got the sense that if I spoke to this woman I would get the full force of her frustrations and I'm not a big fan of being unloaded on. I tried to be compassionate and see that she was clearly unhappy and feeling put upon and that I should try and see her point of view. Being mature is such a drag.
It's about now that I wish for a guitar and a verse or two of Kum Ba Yah. Can't we just all get along?
Then I remember that I am Scottish and picture my inner sweary mary surfacing.
I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the middle of these two images is the perfect parent.