Playground etiquette

We went to our favorite park today. There seemed to be more kids than usual. My first thought was that it was a little chaotic – what with at least ten kids between ages 2 and 4 running, climbing, screaming and laughing all over the toddler play structure. Their mothers seemed to be divided into two camps. The fit, attractive, cool moms wearing sunglasses and military style caps sitting around the edge of the play area, talking with each other. The less fit, less fashionable moms walking around keeping their kids within eyesight. I’m not sure why it was divided so, but I’m just the observer of the story.

So a little boy (aged 2.5 years, I heard his mom say later) barrelled around the twisty slide, chasing a little girl of probably 3.5 years. The little girl kept saying, “no! no!” as the little boy pushed her from behind. She was clearly trying to get away. She ran up the big stairs of the structure, and he was right on her heels. She turned around once more to say, “no!” and this time he slapped her across the face. Hard.

I was sitting with my son in the sand, filling and dumping the dump truck for the 50th time, watching the whole scene unfold. At the slap, and because I was the only adult in the immediate area, I offered, “no, no, we don’t hit,” as the little girl’s mother rounded the corner looking for her loudly crying daughter. Meanwhile, the violent little boy had scampered up the steps and was happily headed towards the twisty slide.

When the little girl’s mother asked the distraught girl what happened, I pointed a finger at the boy and said, “that boy pushed her and slapped her.” The park got a little silent. The cool moms glared at me, aiming their stylish sunglasses my way with obvious disdain. I went on. “She was trying to get away from him.”

The mean little boy’s mother finally came over to see what happened. “Andrew did this? The one in the red shirt.” I offered a decided (if a little accusatory) “yep,” and returned to scooping and dumping with my good boy.

I continued to watch one mom carry her crying daughter away from the scene, while the other mother half-heartedly followed after her son. “Andrew. Andrew. Andrew, come here please.” After walking over to where he was, she looked down at him and said, “Andrew, we don’t hit.” Meanwhile, Andrew had plopped down in the middle of a circle of three kids and their sand toys and proceeded to pick up buckets and shovels, throwing sand and toys in every direction.

That was the extent of his reprimand.

Future criminal?

Should I have tattled? Who knows, but I don’t want that kid hitting my son, and clearly, his mom isn’t aware that she needs to monitor his behavior. But you can bet the other mothers – glaring or not – kept a little closer eye on their own kid when Andrew was around.

This isn’t the first time that I’m noticing that staying close to your small child seems to be the uncool way to parent. Oh, well. I never was very cool anyway. I was always better at being responsible.

One Reply to “Playground etiquette”

  1. Well, in MY opinion, you ARE cool! I would have done exactly the same thing. I don’t have children, but I am an Auntie, and if I witnessed some child hurting or bothering another, I’d absolutely step in just as you did. Cheers for you.

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