So yesterday my daughter (just over 2 years old) was playing by herself at the playground. She loves dirt- so she was playing in the dirt next to a tree when this boy – probably around 5 years old – came over and started taking over the area she was playing in. Mind you there were three other sides of this tree where he could have played with the bulldozer he brought over – but he had to be in the exact space where Ella was playing.
After I had moved Ella twice and the boy kept invading the space where we moved – positioning himself between her and the dirt she was trying to pick up, I finally said something to the boy and his mother who was standing there cluelessly watching at her son. I said that she was a little girl and that she was playing in that area and asked if he could be a little more careful since he was pushing her out of the way and she didn’t understand it. That is when his mother, remember the clueless one I mentioned, looks at me and says “…he is an only child <and laughs nervously>”. She repeated this several times until I said “yeah, but you could teach him how to play with other kids and to be careful around younger kids instead of standing there and letting him behave this way.”
Safe to say that I’m probably NEVER going to be the most popular parent at the playground. I don’t sit there and zone out on my cell phone. I don’t gossip with the other “moms” on the benches. I don’t know where the best Pokemon Stops are (or whatever they are).
Sorry – but I work 10+ hour days and when I get the chance I am going to be actively playing with my child and savoring those moments. I also want to make sure that she is safe b/c at two years old our little daredevil is attempting to climb the rope ladders and demanding to go down the 7 ft slides on here own. So yeah – I am usually running behind her for her safety – but we also do try to be fully engaged in the time we have with her. But during this time I feel that we have a real opportunity to teach socialization and communicate lessons to her. It might be by recognizing the things she did well or things that she didn’t.
Since I have MANY years ahead of dealing with this on playgrounds and at school, my question to you DaddySOS’ers is: how do you deal with parents that don’t “parent” their kids? I find it hard to ignore an older kid tearing a toy out of my kid’s hand that she is playing with (note: the toy had been laying on the ground for the entire 45 minutes we have been there but the older boy who snatched it away insisted that “it’s MINE”, but then quickly discarded it 15 seconds later). Or do you try to teach the kids some basic manners by explaining that if he wanted the toy he could have asked her for it because she is too young to really understand that it was his toy (which it wasn’t). This same kid pushed past her on the stairs to the slide and then walked down the slide (which isn’t allowed at our playground, but the guard was too busy talking to someone to notice any of this behavior – probably b/c she knew I was over there watching my kid).
The encounter ended when another little boy, who had been playing with the kid that walked down the slide, sat down and went down the slide correctly because he knew my daughter was watching. The kid looked at me when he finished and said “I went down right”. I smiled at him and said “yep – you did great!” and he ran off happy. I wish he knew how he gave me a little hope for the upcoming 16+ years of dealing with kids and parents!