23 October 2011

Playground etiquette reaches a new low.

Yesterday was a super fantastic day. It started with breakfast in Portland at one of my favorite spots, with a friend who I hadn't seen in awhile. G is becoming more and more of a challenge during outside mealtimes. I think he's becoming anti-highchair.  After breakfast, we headed to the playground in Deering Oaks Park which was fun and even better, not too crowded.  After lunch and a nap, I decided it was time for a trip to our town's library.  I had a book to return and G has always liked exploring the kids area, so off we went.

When we arrived, there was only one other little boy, I'd say about 8 or 9, playing with the train table, while his mother sat nearby reading.  G immediately toddles over to the table and dares to pick up a train.  The other boy, fraught with anxiety, snatched the train from G's hand and firmly said "This is MY train."  I glanced at the mother, who sat continuing to read her book and ignoring the situation.  So I said, Ok, well, he's just little, he doesn't understand and we'll play on the other side.  The boy continued to hoard his trains, which I realized actually WERE his...he'd brought 4 or 5 in a rumpled Target bag that lay nearby on a tiny stool.

G and I went to the other side of the room, where his two favorite big play dogs sat waiting for attention.  G loves these dogs.  He hugs them, gives them kisses, and coos at them.  The boy comes right over, snatches one of the dogs, tells G he can 'have the other one' and drags the other dog across the room, where he leaves it, tossed aside, and goes back to his trains.  G gives me a look like "what did I do to make this mean boy so nasty to me?".  Meanwhile, the other mother continues reading. 

Not deterred, G wanders to the other side, tries to pet the other dog, and still the boy keeps it away from him.  Next G picks up these little wooden people that fit in a zippy airplane, the train station, a car.  G, in his typical 17 1/2 month fashion, promptly puts the toy in his mouth, and before I have the chance to admonish that, the OTHER boy, says "Ewww. Germs! NO! Take that out of your mouth," but he does it for him, once again, snatching it from G's little nimble fingers and furiously wiping it on his shirt to dismiss any chance of further germ spread.  I sigh, and again, while looking at his mother, and just a teensy bit louder say, "he's just little, he doesn't know, and I'll take it from here, thanks."  I scoop G up, and in my passive aggressive way, mutter that it's just too obnoxious to stay here, and we move on.  I so wanted to slug this kid, (i know that's wrong) but moreso, his mother, who sat totally ignoring the situation, which just ended up depressing me. I am constantly amazed at parents I see who are totally checked out of what their kid is doing, no matter how old.

Moving on, G and I decide to head down the road to a playground that is at the fields where we take Gabs to run.  I can see when pulling in the dirt parking lot that there's also a children's party going on, as the picnic tables have balloons and the group has just sat down to enjoy hot pizza on this crisp fall afternoon.   The playground is pretty decent sized, and we remained a distance from the party, at the swings, while noticing another little one with her grandparents wandering around nearby. 

All of a sudden, the birthday boy (again about 8 or 9 years old) screams (and putting a whole new level to the definition of obnoxious) "Whoooo invited the baaaaaabies to MY birthday party? GO away babies! This is MY party."  What? Is this kid for real?

Out of the dozen or so adults that stood there, only one half-heartedly said blandly "This is a public place." 

I really couldn't believe that within a half an hour span of each other, we had been dealt with this type of behavior.  G and I move on to another part of the playground---a huge structure to climb on, go down slides, swing from etc.  One of the party-goers comes tearing through yelling "Invaders invaders! Baby invades ship."  Seriously, the intellectual part of my brain realizes that these kids clearly have issues from lazy or nonexistent parental guidance, but the irrational part of me wanted to collectively hurl rocks at them.  Thank goodness G has no understanding of these words yet.  He continued to move along, chucking wood chips and laughing at the mess he was making.  While he remained blissfully unaware of these tough words and actions, the whole experience got me thinking.

This was my first real experience with the instinctive mommy need to protect my child from harm, whether it be physical or emotional.  The things going through my head that I wanted to say to these parents and their kids for that matter...well, let's just say not appropriate for playground banter.  Besides, that would be sinking to their level. However, it just made me realize what a long road ahead we have in terms of dealing with bullies, school, and all the other mediums around that promote or ignore this kind of intolerant behavior.  And more importantly, how I hope we are able to instill in G the values and understanding that this behavior is unacceptable, and that the excuse of 'kids just being kids' is a mask for lazy parenting. 

So while our day was speckled with those unfortunate events, we actually did have a great Saturday.  After a good nap, we went to a kiddie Halloween party at my friend Amanda's.  G had a blast and made a very cute giraffe, his most very favorite thing.  I can't wait to walk him around the neighborhood in this on Halloween.

Today also did not disappoint.  This morning we met with some buds at the Rumpus Room and had a grand time diving in and out of the ball pit, shimmying up the pirate ship plank, and flying down the slippery slide to cushioned pillows below.  Lots of playtime outside, lunch, a walk around the neighborhood with Gabs, and now a good nap.  A perfect way to spend this fall Sunday.

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