Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I've Always Been a Tattletale

What has two, going on three years of this whole parenting thing turned me into? (not to mention the previous years spent babysitting and nannying, plus the prior years when I WAS the kid) Well, it makes me a professional playground aficionado. I know, big dreams people, big dreams.

Parks and play spaces-places-and areas oh my, I've been there done that, about a thousand times give or take. You always have a motley group of people at these family-friendly hot spots. These venues being, the general public, and all. Moms, dads, grandparents, nannies, whatever. Today, I want to talk about the three types of children you will inevitably encounter at the top, middle, or bottom of any given slide. 

#1. The supremely nice, sweet, and helpful child. Usually older, they will gravitate towards the younger toddlers in need of a helping hand. "Watch this, little one! Let me help you!" "Here, do you want to play with this?" "LEARN FROM ME!" You'll think to yourself, "Wait, did I miss the chapter where God sends his Son down to earth again?" They are actually that perfectly angelic. 

#2. The bully. Maybe they've fallen off of the tire swing a few too many times and thus must ruin every playground experience for every human they run into face to face. I always think maybe they're just "hangry." It always begins with a stare down, searching for their prey, and it always ends in a shove to the ground. His mother will appear with an admonishing, "You say sorry! Say sorry right now, Patrick Bateman!" 

#3. The bully...without...any...parental...supervision. They push, kick, shove, and take all day long. They live by the Outback restaurant slogan, "No rules, Just Right!" It's every child for themselves, literally. You give them the benefit of the doubt, "Oh you poor thing! No parents at all? Raised by a pack of Australian dingoes, tsk tsk. Here's a granola bar, please don't bite me."

Hashtag Note: Kids will be kids, boys will be boys (girls will be girls?), YOLO. I understand the general learning curve with sharing toys, taking turns, screaming, hitting, pushing, all the stuff that comes along with children learning how to be (hopefully) civilized (hopefully) #1 type adults. Kids are messy, loud, demanding, and misbehaving. I know, cause I have one, (and acknowledge that I have one). I'm actively trying to encourage him away from being a messy, loud, demanding, misbehaving adult.
I'm at the playground, usually drinking an iced Kicker from Dutch Bros, occasionally checking my phone (probably, counting down the time), talking with another parent, sitting, standing, or swinging. Always watching. I am always watching. My mothering type can be summed up in that Celine Dion song, "Near, far, wherever you are!" I may not be right by your side, but Josiah James, I know that you're on the other side of that picnic table thinking about picking up a dirty Mickey Mouse bandaid. And I will stop you, because I'm somehow watching you, (with my actual eyeballs, not the ones they say are in the back of my head).

For some parents, they think a play area means, "All this fun stuff is here so my kid is gonna have fun fun fun and be the funnest fun ever and fun! See you in two hours, come find me if you're bleeding. Never mind, just pick up that bandaid over there on the picnic table, but ONLY if you need it! Responsibility!" What their kid actually hears, "blah blah blah RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!! THERE WILL BE BLOOD blah blah blah! HAVE FUN, WHATEVER FUN MEANS TO YOU, YOU HAVE IT!"
They think a playground equals a public school education. "Here ye shall enter mid-morning, just a child, and in six hours time, shall emerge polite, refined, and one day closer to Harvard!"
These are the UN of parents. There will be peace, harmony, and someone else can always step in and handle it.

I don't want to step in and handle your feral cat-child-it. I'm over here trying to wrangle a two year old who's main mantra in life right now is, "What Would Curious George Do?" Inevitably, our two animal children will meet ever so briefly over by the sand pit whereupon yours shoves mine, for no reason at all. I can understand self-defense or if my son said you looked fat in those pants, but I'm pretty sure I saw none of that. Ya know. Cause I was watching, and he's only a two year old boy trying to show off his new hot wheels car. Here we go again. I, the lone adult in the situation, will pick up my crying toddler while yours scampers off into the bushes, hissing, "My preciousssssss!"

The last time I pushed someone was during recess in 2nd grade. Brandon. I pushed him off the swing after he stole it from me and said, "Sorry, babe." Of course, he totally deserved it. He cried, and I felt kinda bad and then Ms. Watson our recess monitor found out and I felt actually detention. My bullying days began and ended that day. A fleeting attempt, at best. I wonder though, if no authority had discovered my thirst for vengeance, would I still be pushing male chauvinists off of swing sets today? I mean, they totally deserve it.


The other morning at JJ Jump, we were stuck with a dreaded #3. A dreaded numero tres in the confines of a bouncy house. I'm not getting paid enough for this. My son would pick up a ball and across the room she hopped to steal it away and then body slam him to the floor AND then laugh maniacally. At first, I was all, "Haha! You silly rabbit! Be careful!" After the seventh purposeful attack though, I really wanted to say, "HEY! Leave my kid alone! By the way, there's no Santa Clause, it's just your parents. Wherever they are."
Eventually, Josiah was terrified of her and would leap into my arms for safety every time she even so much as glanced at him. (After she didn't listen to him while he wagged his finger saying, "No no no! I don't like that! Be nice.")

My optimism slowly faded.

"Maybe she's trying to play with you?
"Basketball? She's definitely trying to play basketball?
"Krav Maga?"
"How about you go grab the other ball?"
"How about the other other ball?"
"Let's just play in this corner."
"Ok. Let's just play in that corner."
"Tell her, 'No pushing please!'"
"Forget the please, forget the please, just say NO!"
"Son, sometimes bad things happen to good people..."
"With great power comes great responsibility."
"Yep, she's just the spawn of satan, I mean, a #3."

Eventually, eventually! her father comes over to check on how things are going. Oh, so the devil does wear hawaiian shirts and white socks with Birkenstocks. As he scans the aftermath of her bouncy house reign of terror, "Having fun, princess?" He looks at the battered children emerging from their hiding places, and I swear he says, "Looks like things are getting rough in there! Keep having funnnnnn!" Then...he...disappears. Before I can say, "Princess? C'mon, you mean, Sith Lord Darth Revan, right?" *mic drop*

He has vanished. Presumably back to his Iron Throne, while the battlefield action on air resumes.

Right on cue, the heavens part and a #1 floats over to the group of cowering two year olds. Extending a tie dyed rubber ball peacefully to my son, she says, "Here you go! Can you try and catch it?"

Our savior has arrived, wearing a Hello Kitty shirt nonetheless.

All is well in Playground Kingdom once more.
Until, tomorrow.


{Bon Bon}

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