This past Saturday afternoon I took Madaline to the local playground. It was a special treat for her, a reward so to speak, as she was such a good girl during our visit to see my Dad in the hospital. It was about mid afternoon and she has fallen asleep on our way to the playground. I pulled in, choose the shadiest spot available in the treeless parking lot, put the radio on the Yankee game, and decided to let her snooze for about a 1/2 hour or so. While I was waiting, I watched no less than 3 large men run by with yapping, ankle eating dogs on the ends of their leashes. I found this to be odd - BIG burley men with dogs so little they would fit in my purse. And, as I thought of our own 50 pound Brittany spaniel, it made me wonder - doesn’t anybody own big dogs anymore? But, that is neither here nor there.
The half hour passed quickly and when I woke her up Madaline could barely contain her excitement. She knew exactly where she was. She wobbled across the parking lot, blinking the sleep from her eyes and headed down the slight hill that leads to this splendid oasis of wood chips and colored metal. And, things were great! She had the HUGE play ground all to herself. There was no pushing or shoving or screaming or yelling. (For now) Just the occasionally she would say 'Look mommy’ and 'Over here mommy' as I at close by snapping a few random photos here or there.
Our solitary play lasted all of maybe 15 minutes. I had seen them creeping across the parking lot - a "mother" (and I use that term loosely) with two "older" children in tow. I would say, maybe they were in the 7-8-9 age range. I will refer to them as Older Kid A and Older Kid B. They immediately went to the larger section of the playground and Madaline stayed put on the smaller section that is geared more towards toddlers and pre-schoolers. However, the higher, make mommy's heart beat out of her chest, slides are on the large, geared more towards older kids part of the playground. And, soon, Mads had abandoned the toddler section seeking out the larger slides. Her absolute favorite.
Things were fine at first. As our time had progressed, several other smaller children, around Madaline's age had shown up at the playground. It always amazes me how quickly children at that age accept each other and will often times instantly start playing together. And, then it was as if the Playground became the Twilight Zone. The screaming, the pushing and the shoving started - and to my surprise as I watched this unfold, it was all being doled out by Older Kid A & B. And it wasn't just happening to my daughter. I watched as Older Kid A pushed Madaline to the side as she was getting ready to cross one of the bridges that leads to the twisty slide. Heard Older Kid B yell at Madaline to "stop following me" and knock her backwards as she tried to make her way to one of the tunnel slides. Next thing I know Older Kid A & B are having a pushing/yelling match on the slide landing at the tallest part of the entire play structure. I stood at the bottom, a knot forming in the pit of my stomach, as Madaline and another little boy were patiently waiting their turn to come down the twisty slide.
This knot grew VERY large in the pit of my stomach – until I was about ready to choke on it. This is where I had had enough - I spoke to Older Kid A & B. Rather, I used my overly loud and stern mommy voice. I said "Excuse me - You need to be careful - before one of these little kids gets hurt". And, if looks could kill, I would have fallen into my next life right there on the play ground mulch. And, it would have been a double whammy - from both Older Kid A & B as well as from the “mother”. Shortly after this, they left and all the toddlers continued to play.
But, really, I have seen farm animals that have better manners than Older Kid A and Older Kid B. I don't take a whole lot of issue with the children in spite of how rude they were. I mainly take issue with the parents - Or, in this particular instance, the “mother” at the playground with her children. How can a parent sit idly by on the playground bench and allow their children to behave in such a fashion? And, then act all offend when I ask them to be mindful of not only my daughter but for the other smaller children. When did rude behavior becoming so common place? Do people not teach their children manners these days? I realize we were on a playground - and yelling and running and stumbling are going to happen. This is fine with me. My daughter is no stranger to bumps, bruises and scrapes. However, I don't think I have to sit on my hands and watch as my daughter gets pushed and shoved while she waits her turn in line at the twisty slide while two other siblings duke it out. Which makes me wonder, when did children become so consumed with themselves that they have no consideration for those around them?
I *think* my husband was surprised that I said anything as I recounted this story to him later in the evening. But, at the end of the day, what you teach your child is your business. Whether you teach them to be rude or you teach them to be polite. If you allow your children to behave like a wildebeests in your home, then so be it. But, when it happens in public AND it D I R E C T L Y impact the safety of my child, I am going to say something.
So, save your dirty looks and be a better parent.