Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Not To Make Mommy Friends

We once again somehow managed to have a spate of nice days this week. Ok, so it was really two, and kind of only one. But Little Miss got to spend lots of time at the park yesterday (with Grandma, while I worked the book fair the entire day and night, so this nice day thing is kind of hearsay).

While at the park, my mom noticed that there were some parents there who apparently needed a little refresher of park etiquette. Luckily, no one got hurt, but it sounds like there were some close calls. That or my mom was using her dramatic tendencies again.

Regardless, I present you with my TOP TEN THINGS NOT TO DO AT THE PLAYGROUND:

10) We all love pictures of our kids, and digital cameras make it really easy to tote them everywhere. Assuming I remember I have mine - and its batteries are charged - I take my fair share of pictures. But it's weird and disturbing when you start taking pictures of my child when I don't know you. Really weird. Like we're leaving the park weird. Quit it. We were having fun.

9) If your child is home sick from school -- say with the swine flu -- and feeling a little better but still possibly has a mild fever, and is definitely hacking up a lung and sneezing as though surrounded by Pigpen's perennial dust cover, going to the park is not a good idea. Really. We're finding plenty of other ways to get germs, and I think we're full up right now.

8) While I know everyone has different rules, don't let your child throw wood chips into other children's faces. I get that our rule that wood chips stay on the ground and aren't picked up at all is probably not necessary for every family, but trust me, seeing me after there's a splinter in my child's eye because you were letting your child play tornado with the wood chips on my child will not be pretty.

7) The only time I want to hear about potties on the playground (ok, so I don't ever really want to hear about them) is when a child -- and preferably not my own - has to go potty. We've tried to keep their ears and mouths somewhat innocent. Watching your four year old swearing like a sailor is just not cool.

6) My child will be ok. I know my child's limits. I know she's small, but Little Miss is mighty. She's fully capable of climbing up the ladder by herself, as she's done it nine thousand times and now scrambles up it like a monkey. It's her talent. Don't tell my child what she's too little to do. I'm standing within a ten foot radius at all times, and I'm fully aware of and comfortable with what she's doing.

5) We love snacks. We just don't love them ground into the playground equipment. See those picnic tables just outside the wood chip area of the playground? Those are where you can sit and eat and enjoy your food and drink. As much as I'm sure your child disagrees, it is possible to eat at a playground without playing. And the equipment? It just can't digest all those Cheetos and Capri-Suns. Think of it like the zoo with their "Don't Feed The Animals" signs.

4) The park is a great way for a child to learn some independence. There's a difference between independence and abandonment, however. When your child has fallen off the slide and is bleeding and screaming bloody murder, that's a good time for your to end the phone call you've been on for the past ninety minutes and check to see what your child is doing. There's only so much comforting a stranger can do in that situation.

3) Fun is playing. Playing is not seeing if you can break the equipment. The equipment on playgrounds is mind-bogglingly expensive, as I know (we're trying to raise funds to put in a playground at the new school being built). While it won't last forever, watching your child trying to jump up and down to find a stress point on the plastic tunnel and then actually breaking through the top of it is more than a little depressing. Having him sneer and swear at me when I ask him to please be careful and look out of the equipment goes beyond unacceptable.

2) Back to the snacks thing. I'm sure you've run into this issue at school where you have to be sure that anything you send in is at least peanut free because of allergies. Those allergies don't go away just because you're on the playground. While I love that you and your child want to share, giving my child chocolate candies without seeing if it's ok first is dangerous. Fortunately, Little Miss knows she has a dairy allergy and needs to check with me before eating anything, but not all kids will do that.

And the number one thing not to do at the playground?

1) Don't leave your kid there alone. Wow. While he might be seven or eight, he obviously doesn't know anyone at the park who is watching out for him. As mature as he may be, this park is not in a neighborhood where there are houses nearby. There's a busy street just outside the park borders. And the few families that are playing aren't going to necessarily be here the whole time to babysit him. Life's busy -- and trust me, I get that -- but bring your work to the park if you have to or take him with you. You don't know what or who is lurking when you aren't there.

I feel much better now. Except for the rain that's pouring down outside that is going to continue for the next ten days. Unless, of course, the rain turns to snow. On the plus side, I won't have to worry about park issues for another eight months!

So what are your biggest playground don'ts?

23 comments:

MaBunny October 22, 2009 at 9:36 AM  

Wow Michelle, I loved your list! It usually falls back to 'other peoples children'. You wish all parents had rules and morals, but sadly we know that is not true. There will always be someone out there encouraging their little bully, or thinks its cute that they chunk something in someones eye and call it just being kids... etc. I call it not teaching your child right from wrong.
Enjoy the rain! NOT! here it is a cold, wet soppy mess all around!

Angie's Spot October 22, 2009 at 9:43 AM  

This is a great list! It pretty much captures everything that is my pet peeve at the playground. Especially the parents who use these areas as babysitters while they chat it up on the phone, completely oblivious that their child is terrorizing others. Now THAT really gets under my skin. And I (unfortunately) have been known to verbally discipline someone else's kid who was not playing well with others. Grrrr.

H F W October 22, 2009 at 10:17 AM  

Booo for not having to worry about park ettiquette for the nex billion months. Boo. And boo some more. Stinky Chicago weather.

Emmy October 22, 2009 at 10:55 AM  

Great list and I agree with every rule. If my child throws sand or wood chips, we go home.
It is crazy how some parents take no responsibility for their kids.

septembermom October 22, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

I think you touched on all my playground don'ts! I agree with all of them. I hate running into the wood chip throwers at the park. Too many times, the mom is sitting chatting away while my kid is getting hit by this "shrapnel". I also find that a lot of kids are looking for adult attention at the park. I'll be playing with my daughter when usually a kid or two will join in and commence to tell me their life story. They fight a bit for my attention. Doesn't the mom notice that now I'm watching my kid plus two more? Like I need more kids to add to my "worry" "watch out" "be careful" time at the park :)

Cookie October 22, 2009 at 12:26 PM  

Really?! someone left their kid at the park alone?! Yikes! That is creepy when a starnger starts taking pictures of my kids. I don't like that either.

Tara R. October 22, 2009 at 1:22 PM  

Love the list. It's sad though, that common sense good manners have to be spelled out for some parents. Your #1 item is a all time pet peeve of mine. I can't stand it when other parents abdicate their responsibility for their child whenever they are out somewhere, whether it's a park or restaurant, or the mall. Makes me crazy.

Melisa with one S October 22, 2009 at 2:15 PM  

This is an AWESOME list!! I'm stumbling it.

I was--for a quarter of a second--thinking, "Eh, too bad I don't have a little one anymore, so I could photocopy this and hand it out at the park!"

And then I snapped out of it. :)

The (Un)Experienced Mom October 22, 2009 at 2:22 PM  

Great post! They are all so true.... My biggest don't is "Don't hang out at the playground if you don't have any kids. Especially if you're a man...that's just weird!"

Feel free to checkout my blog at

http://theunexperiencedmom.blogspot.com/
Tamara

Megryansmom October 22, 2009 at 2:47 PM  

I love your list of rules, you should post it at the park, unfortunately those that NEED to read it wouldn't.

Cairo Typ0 October 23, 2009 at 5:25 AM  

Great list of rules! Although rule number one is super important (obviously) i do find it sad. Growing up we used to go to the park by ourselves and make new friends and hang out for hours. Now many years later, my nieces and nephews have to be accompanied to the park even though its right behind my parent's house. I know it's silly but to me it is such an example of how times have changed since we were kids.

Karen October 23, 2009 at 7:35 AM  

I cannot believe the things that go on at playgrounds. Parents truly think that it's a large babysitting area so they are free to go and do whatever they want.

Yeh, pet peeve of mine.

And for the record, we have a strict policy in our house that if you're home sick, you're HOME sick. You don't even go outside at our home to play because you're SICK. I hate when parents drag sick kids all through public.

Duke October 23, 2009 at 7:39 AM  

What a delightful blog you have.

Mocha Dad October 23, 2009 at 12:03 PM  

I often have to rescue kids from dangerous situations at the park because their parents aren't paying any attention.

Fishsticks and Fireflies October 23, 2009 at 2:30 PM  

This is EXACTLY why I dislike taking my kids to the playground! It seems like every time we go, each and every one of the things mentioned on your list happens - twice. Great post!

Shelly Overlook October 23, 2009 at 7:51 PM  

Don't stand and be so engrossed in your conversation with your friends that you completely neglect to see that your child is behaving like a total asshole.

Taking pictures is great, but being so involved in your picture taking that your child's safety is in question or your other child (that you're not focusing on) is out of control is not so great.

Unknown Mami October 23, 2009 at 9:32 PM  

Alone! Who leaves their kid alone? Crazy!

Great list.

Mama Kat October 24, 2009 at 1:01 AM  

The flu one always gets me. I'm thoughtful enough to stay home when my kids are sick...even when they're on the mend. MAYBE we'll go for a little walk around the block for fresh air, POSSIBLY we'll go for a drive to get out of the house...but we NEVER go to restaurants or playgrounds where other kids can pick up our bad germs. So rude.

Jennifer October 24, 2009 at 7:44 AM  

They should have these posted somewhere at every park-even our neighborhood park! You'd be surprised at how many 8 - 10 year olds are there without an adult. I don't know if they go as a group or what. It's downright scary since the river runs adjacent to the park PLUS there's an RV park on the other side of the small parking lot. We live on the Canadian/US border so the most horrible scenarios come to mind.

By the way, I totally agree with Karen! If you're home sick then you are HOME sick. None of my errands are done unless it requires a quick trip to the pharmacy or the grocery for soup, juice or something else they need to feel better. Also all after school activities are canceled until they go back to school - so don't get sick on a Friday! ;)

Pat October 24, 2009 at 9:03 AM  

I think you pretty well covered them. I like your list, ESPECIALLY the one about not leaving your child there alone! It's amazing to me that any parent would do that.

Corinne October 24, 2009 at 10:29 PM  

I love your list! Especially #6 (bugs the heck out of me!!), #5 - because of your reason #2 (we have a peanut allergy here). And #10, that's just crazy!
Great list :)

A Musing Mom (Taylorclan6) October 25, 2009 at 2:12 AM  

This is just an observation I have after hosting a birthday party for a bunch of 11 year old girls who, I might add, were girly, loud, and precocious. Not in a bad way but probably not what their parents had in mind.

Pet peeve: A mother who says, "My child would NEVER do/act that way."

Full-blown denial. Yes, they do. Get them out of your eyesight, and they do what the others do.

Michelle November 1, 2009 at 8:29 AM  

MaBunny - ummm yeah... "other" people's children. Because mine are all so perfect all the time ;)

Angie - Yep, the talking on the phone drives me nuts when that's all they do and the child is obviously looking for attention. But I'll admit that there are times I will take a call while at the park, but my eyes are still on the wee ones at all times!

Hyacynth - Yeah, no kdiding. I wish we could get a petition together that would make a difference!

Emmy - I thought I was the only one -- given what I see from other children. Our consequences happen. Thankfully.

Kelly - Yeah... it's frustrating when that happens. On the plus side, when we go to the park that no one else goes to, I don't have to worry about that ;)

Dawn - Ummmm yeah.I've seen that happen more than once. And I can get it if it's the neighborhood park and you're biking there with your friends. But not the one near the major road that isn't in a neighborhood where you drop your solo kid off, not knowing anyone else at the park. Creepy.

Tara - I think that unfortunately common sense and good manners have both long ago disappeared for too many people.

Melisa - Snap out of it. Be grateful you've got the two great boys you have!

Tamara - Ok, THAT is another very key one. Fortunately, I haven't run into that one!

Megryansmom - And not only wouldn't they, but they'd make icky faces at me and be mean. Because that's what they do.

Cairo Typ0 - Yeah but if it were right behind my house and they were going with more than one kid, I'd actually feel ok about that in a couple years. Things have definitely changed though!

Karen - Oh thank you. The "I'm sick but I still have stuff to do so we just won't go to school" thing drives me batty!

Duke - Why thank you.

Mocha Dad - Yep. And then do you get the evil eye for having approached their children?

Nichole - Fortunately we don't have these things happen every time, or I probably wouldn't go to the park :)

Shelly - Yeah, that whole safety and consideration thing -- somewhat important!

Unknown Mami - I don't know -- and I'm kind of glad I don't know. If they were my friends, I'd have to think about that.

Mama Kat - Outside where no one is touching anything, I'm ok with. It's the spreading of germs directly that I don't like. You pass ;)

Jennifer - Wow, you're tough. No activities even on a weekend if they're better? Bummer for your kids!

Pat - Oh, there are parents who do that. Regularly.

Corinne - I'm sure your peanut allergy is far more serious than our dairy one, too. The dairy is a PITA if she gets any, but peanuts can be really scary!

A Musing Mom - Wellll yeah. I can only imagine the things my children do when out of my supervision. We talk a lot about what is and isn't ok and why, but ... I always wonder how much sinks in!

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