The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
November 2013

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Park Problems

I took the kids to the park yesterday morning so Troy could have some quiet alone time. I discovered long ago, when I first started taking C to the park as a baby that I have some social anxieties. Park politics have long been a source of mild panic for me, though I have certainly learned to master my feelings a little in the past nearly-five years. For example, when kids bring toys to the park and then leave them unattended, is it okay for your child to touch them? At some parks yes, some no. For some kids yes, some no. Do you speak to the person standing inches away from you while you're both pushing your child in the swings? How long do you attempt to carry on a somewhat awkward conversation? If other kids ask you questions, are you allowed to talk to them? Do you touch another person's child if you believe that child is in danger? Perhaps these types of questions don't bother you, but I, who have always thought of myself as a socially comfortable person, found myself avoiding the park at "peak" hours so I would not be faced with trying to carry on conversations with strangers or have other people watch me parent my child. I know, I probably sound nuts, and I am, but there you are. I cope better now than I used to.

Back to the story. We're at the park. Little R, who is very small for her age, is quite a climber. She loves to climb those metal ladders up to the top of the play equipment and has gotten very good at it. For the most part I stand near her, usually with a hand on her bottom, to spot her should she fall. Now that she has accomplished the feat at least a hundred times, I have to admit I'm getting bored of standing there. So yesterday I was sitting on a rock, near the climbing R, and watching her carefully. Part of me feels like I need to back off a little bit and just let her do her thing. As she got higher and higher on the ladder I started to wonder if maybe I should stand near her after all just in case. Well, before I could do anything, some other kid's grandma stepped in and assisted R to the top of the ladder, over the gap, and onto the platform on top. I felt really stupid - of course she thought I was a crummy mother - you should have seen the look she gave me as she shook her head. She didn't speak English, as far as I could tell, because she spent her entire park visit cooing to her granddaughter and mumbling in what had to be a Slavic language. Feeling sheepish I figured I really should stand a little nearer my daughter. Then on R's next ascent I really was standing RIGHT there, I just didn't have my hands on her. Hey - she's a good climber and I want her to feel independent. And again this grandma grabbed my kid to help her up - obviously very nervous for her safety. Sheish. Hands off, lady! I was so irritated. Did I "use my words" (as I constantly urge my own children) to express my discontent at her lack of confidence in both my and my child? Of course not. My excuse was that I don't think she spoke any English.

This episode was a repeat of a similar incident just a couple of days before at a different park. It's hard to know if someone's child isn't being watched carefully and they're getting into trouble or if the parent is indeed watching and knows their kid is capable of whatever it is they're attempting.

Am I the only one who has park anxiety? Should I spot my 2-year-old on every climb? Do I do it just so other moms/grandmas won't take over, thinking I'm a very neglectful parent? I think I need a drink.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's one that tops that. So, when I took your kids to the park there was only one other family there and they were occupied riding bikes, so I was free to neglect your children as I pleased. I watched R across the playground climbing higher and higher on a ladder, and thought she would at some point stop or look back at me for help. Of course, you know she didn't, and just when she was teetering at the top, and I started to sprint across the many yards separating us, the little girl on her bike decided to ride along side me. Somehow, with my eyes and heart focused on R, I managed to plow over the girl on the bike and we both ended up sprawled on the pavement. K. So that is a parent playground delima for you - do I comfort the child I just bulldozed or do I ignore her and run to a child who is probably fine but looks precarious?

I think this was also the trip where Chase had an "accident" when we first got there and I decided to just stay and play at the nearly deserted playground anyway.Right ? Wrong? I don't know. We had a lot of fun, though despite it all.

MRL

ghd3 said...

> When kids bring toys to the park and then leave them unattended, is it okay for your child to touch them?

Yes. Sharing is good.

> Do you speak to the person standing inches away from you while you're both pushing your child in the swings?

Yes. Small chit-chat is always good. Less awkward, in fact, than saying nothing.

> How long do you attempt to carry on a somewhat awkward conversation?

Only as long as you want to. Or until your child is ready to move on.

> If other kids ask you questions, are you allowed to talk to them?

Absolutely.

> Do you touch another person's child if you believe that child is in danger?

If no other parental-type adult is near-at-hand, yes.

> Am I the only one who has park anxiety?

Don't know. Probably not.

> Should I spot my 2-year-old on every climb?

Nope. You're right that they need to do it themselves and learn increased independence, even if it means the occasional tumble or scrape.

> Drink?

Malted Milk.

Source: playground-goers handbook, chapter 1.