You guys, I’m in a quandary.
I was at the park yesterday with the squirt, letting him blow off some steam. We went early-ish in the day so there really wasn’t anyone there except for a few nannies, making sure their charges were getting some sunshine while they chatted away in various languages on their cell phones.
I kinda prefer it this way. And Ben could care. As long as he gets pushed on the swings long enough, and I don’t hinder his new found climbing skills, to the detriment of my blood pressure, he’s good.
And frankly, I don’t like dealing with other parents.
Now, you may be thinking, “Oh you misanthrope!” and you’d be right, but that isn’t why I don’t want to deal with them. Socially, I appear fairly inapproachable, so I don’t get too many “mommy chats” that make me want to pour bleach in my ears. No, I don’t like dealing with them because I don’t know the rules anymore.
Look–I have a boy. A boy who craves sensory input. A boy who is JUST beginning to understand the concept of ownership. Who cannot understand what other kids say to him most of the time, and can’t read a social cue for nothing.
Now, he’s not some Tasmanian devil trolling the playstructure with destruction. He’s a happy kid, smiling, scripting his own strange language, smiling, wanting to join in, smiling and running around. He loves the slide. The higher the better. And he loves, LOVES, when kids wanna pile on one another in some sort of game that only kids understand.
If a kid chases him, run near him, or within 5 feet of him, IT’S ON. If two kids are squishing against one another in a 10-foot radius, he will find them and join in. And generally, giggles ensue.
But sometimes he engages first, for whatever reason. Because he doesn’t understand that not all kids love a good squish. And THAT I cannot explain in words that he understands. I’ve tried–GODDESS KNOWS–but he just looks at me all cockeyed.
But even that isn’t what confuses me.
Here’s the story. Yesterday, my kid was wanting to go down a slide. And there was a little girl in front of him, younger, waiting at the top of the slide. A tall slide too–a big kid slide. and her mom was on the sidelines, checking her FB status. I don’t judge. My phone was in my hand too. Off–but in my hand. Anyway, the little girl was waiting at the top FOREVER, and seemed to be smiling and giggling with Ben, right behind her. I reminded Ben to wait his turn, then she went down the slide and he quickly followed. Then they ran back up the structure to do it again. And she waited at the top, with Ben right behind her. And waited. And waited. And waited. Now, I couldn’t see their legs, but I have to assume that Ben gave her a leg shove to move her down the slide. and she came down the slide, physically unharmed, but crying, into her mother’s arms. (we both rushed over about the same time, so props to her for multitasking with the phone and parenting) I grab Ben and apologize to the mother and gently admonish Ben for not being gentle with a little one–which is my rule.
The daggers that came from the mother to me for the remainder of this park adventure could have put ginsu to shame.
And I thought–when did we become such pansies?
Look–I am a helicopter mom. I know it. My kid has a tendency to lash out or do things that are inappropriate for which I try to run interference. But he’s also a kid. A boy, even. There is a great deal of shenanigans to be done in his lifetime, that I will try my best to not hinder. I’m just trying to keep him from inadvertently beating anyone up in the process. Look–he’s strong, with some weight behind him. He could decimate someone. Not that he wants to, but he could.
And even calling myself a helicopter mom, I don’t hover NEARLY as much as others. And I don’t judge–well, sorta, but only in my head as I am obviously in no place to really say anything.
And not wanting to sound like an old geezer–but when we were little, my mom wasn’t even AT the park with me (granted it was our backyard–but still). There was no hover. There was playground justice. Big kids looked after little kids. Little kids ate sand. Bullying happened. Wrestling and grab-ass occurred. Monkey bars were licked. Cuts and scrapes were acquired. Friendships were made. I’m in no way saying it was perfect or bucolic, but it was different. And we were tougher for it.
Now, I’ve been annoyed with other kids and their parents at the park, here and here. But I’ve also seen kids pile on Benji in ways that he liked and didn’t like. If he didn’t, he usually comes running to me, and I tell him to avoid those kids. Because that’s how that works, right? Am I supposed to sit there in indignant anger? Am I doing this wrong?
Eventually we had to leave because the local day-camp released the inmates, and the noise was a bit much for my boy. But that lady didn’t quit glaring at me until I was out of eyesight. really.
This. This is the reason I dislike the park so. Because obviously a memo went out on how to hinder kids from playing, and I missed it.