Monday, April 20, 2009

Park your manners

First, I know my dedicated and faithful fans are probably desperately awaiting my latest Parks and Rec installment. However, I am still having technical difficulties on the home computer front, so the delay will continue. Try to cope with the disappointment. In the meantime, this does relate to parks. I took Will to a park in Provo today on my lunch and came away with a few thoughts.

There was a guy there with his kids that was probably about my age, and several pounds above 200. The problem was he was sporting some shiny black lycra pants. Now they weren't the skin tight, tapered leg lycra pants at least, for some reason at least from about knee down they were straight legged. But the top was tight. And it really doesn't matter if he had weighed 100 pounds, guys please don't hang out at the park in lycra. I'm not sure why these pants exist, but they definitely should not leave the comfort of your own home.

Sort of like when I go swim suit shopping and see bikinis in my size. Now if you are comfortable with your body, good for you, but you should not be wearing a bikini if you shop in the plus size section. Sorry, I just don't approve. So back to mr tighty pants. One thing I noticed was that he wasn't wearing a wedding ring. Which doesn't necessarily mean he's not married, but my first thought was, is this what I have to look forward to in the 30+ dating field?

Second issue, park etiquette. I have tried very hard to teach Will that when you are at the park you wait your turn in line. You don't climb up the slide, you go around and use the stairs. You don't throw wood chips on other kids, you know, basic manners. The problem is, I go to the park and feel like I am the only parent that has tried to do this. For the first time today I did actually see another mom tell her daughter that she needed to use the stairs and not climb up the slide. And I've been to the park a lot, and seriously, first time.

Now I understand that climbing up the slide can be another fun use of the equipment. But if you are at a busy park area and lets say there is one slide suitable for the younger than five crowd. And yet there are three ten year olds just hanging out on the bottom of the slide, laying across the slide, blocking anyone else from using the slide, it gets annoying.

So I'm not sure what approach I should take at the park. Do I become playground monitor and in a nice way tell the kids to get the hell off the slide? Are you risking getting yelled at by another parent by saying something to their kid? Cause lets face it, my experience with disrespectful kids is that a lot of them learned it from somewhere. Do I just let kids be kids and do what most parents seem to do and ignore what's going on?

I feel bad when I see my kid waiting patiently for his turn and his reward is never getting a turn because bigger/meaner kids just push by. And how do you walk that line of wanting your kid to be able to stand up for himself, but not become a bully. And on the other hand, be willing to let someone go ahead of him, but not become a push over?

Another issue that has come up at the park is seeing Will deal with the social anxiety that both his parents passed along to him. Sometimes he will just start running around chasing other kids just joining in their play even if they are ignoring him. And then other times he stands off to the side wanting to go play with a kid, but too shy to make the first move. My heart breaks for him because I feel anxiety just watching him learn how to be a social person, and I'm not the best example. He came up to me last week and asked if I would go see if the boy wanted to play with him. I was thinking yeah right, there is no way I'm going up to that kid, and it was a kid. Like four.

I'm suggesting a class be added to kindergarten and preschool, playground manners. And if you fail the class you lose playground privileges. I will volunteer to be the first teacher. Or maybe it needs to be added to prenatal classes, lets start with the parents and make sure they have a good understanding of what some expectations are.


Susie said...

You're definitely not the only parent that has noticed playground etiquette. The park at Hogle Zoo is terrible with the big kids climbing up the slide. However, I've combated my social anxiety over the years. If the big kids are blocking the path, I approach them and tell them to move so everyone can play. It's great how they listen, and they do. And even greater that I don't care what they or their parents think. They need to learn manners the hard way, apparently. You'll get used to it. :)

Maren said...


I have many a time been the playground mother and told some kid to be careful around my little guys. I have no problem offending a 10 year old. Usually, though, if I'm nice about it, the kids move on without a confrontation. And let's be honest, most parents aren't even paying attention to what their kids are doing...just nursing their Sonic slushies.

Andrea said...

Step away from the lycra!.....that's just not okay.

This post about how to handle the playground problems is just further confirmation of my inadequacy to ever have children. I'd have no idea what to do! It drives me nuts when parents don't make any attempt to discipline or teach manners to their kids.

Britta said...

I've done both things - I've let Ella fend for herself at times, but especially if it's an older kid that's being rude or inconsiderate, I'll just nicely tell them to move on. I've also used "the look" very effectively several times.