Wednesday, August 31, 2011

playground parenting

I started out writing a crazy long post (okay, rant) about how other parents do not watch their children at the playground.  And the truth is that many times when I am at the playground with Lilly I see parents chatting to each other on benches, on their phones without ever looking up and, like yesterday, swinging while their baby was in a carriage near by.  The poor little one kept reaching her chubby hands up as mom swung near her.  I kid you not.

My real question though, is why are parents not watching their children?  The playground is a dangerous place!  I know I may seem a little over the top here, but I am a preschool teacher so I kind of know these things.  Children can wander away in the blink of an eye; so-called strangers who look like the guy with the lost puppy or the person helping the kid on the monkey bars can be not as benign as they seem; children can accidentally (or not) hurt other children; they can knock their teeth out on fireman poles (just ask my brother); they can fracture their legs going down slides...should I really go on?

I have seen parents at parks in Chatham, Maplewood, South Orange and Union do this.  It seems to be a universal thing that parents do not parent at the playground.  Now some of these parents may be looking at me as a hover mom, but I really do not think I am.  I keep an eye and stand near to make sure that Lilly is not doing something above her skill level.  If there is nobody her age there I play with her.  If there are children she wants to play with I help her introduce herself.  If a boy does not wait until she is even halfway down the slide before coming slamming into her, I help her tell him to please wait next time.  (grrr....one of many incidents from yesterday) And yes, if you are not doing your job and your child is causing other children to get hurt or pushing in front of the whole line of kids patiently waiting, I will say something.  The first time will be in my nice Mommy voice.  The next will be in my stern, take-no-crap teacher voice.  With a look.  And for goodness sake, or the sake of your child, be a parent at the playground!

p.s. about the slide link, that is about parents going down with their children, but it can also happen with other children doing a "train" down or just not waiting until the other kids are off.
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