We once again somehow managed to have a spate of nice days this week. Ok, so it was really two, and kind of only one. But Little Miss got to spend lots of time at the park yesterday (with Grandma, while I worked the book fair the entire day and night, so this nice day thing is kind of hearsay).
While at the park, my mom noticed that there were some parents there who apparently needed a little refresher of park etiquette. Luckily, no one got hurt, but it sounds like there were some close calls. That or my mom was using her dramatic tendencies again.
Regardless, I present you with my TOP TEN THINGS NOT TO DO AT THE PLAYGROUND:
10) We all love pictures of our kids, and digital cameras make it really easy to tote them everywhere. Assuming I remember I have mine – and its batteries are charged – I take my fair share of pictures. But it’s weird and disturbing when you start taking pictures of my child when I don’t know you. Really weird. Like we’re leaving the park weird. Quit it. We were having fun.
9) If your child is home sick from school — say with the swine flu — and feeling a little better but still possibly has a mild fever, and is definitely hacking up a lung and sneezing as though surrounded by Pigpen’s perennial dust cover, going to the park is not a good idea. Really. We’re finding plenty of other ways to get germs, and I think we’re full up right now.
8) While I know everyone has different rules, don’t let your child throw wood chips into other children’s faces. I get that our rule that wood chips stay on the ground and aren’t picked up at all is probably not necessary for every family, but trust me, seeing me after there’s a splinter in my child’s eye because you were letting your child play tornado with the wood chips on my child will not be pretty.
7) The only time I want to hear about potties on the playground (ok, so I don’t ever really want to hear about them) is when a child — and preferably not my own – has to go potty. We’ve tried to keep their ears and mouths somewhat innocent. Watching your four year old swearing like a sailor is just not cool.
6) My child will be ok. I know my child’s limits. I know she’s small, but Little Miss is mighty. She’s fully capable of climbing up the ladder by herself, as she’s done it nine thousand times and now scrambles up it like a monkey. It’s her talent. Don’t tell my child what she’s too little to do. I’m standing within a ten foot radius at all times, and I’m fully aware of and comfortable with what she’s doing.
5) We love snacks. We just don’t love them ground into the playground equipment. See those picnic tables just outside the wood chip area of the playground? Those are where you can sit and eat and enjoy your food and drink. As much as I’m sure your child disagrees, it is possible to eat at a playground without playing. And the equipment? It just can’t digest all those Cheetos and Capri-Suns. Think of it like the zoo with their “Don’t Feed The Animals” signs.
4) The park is a great way for a child to learn some independence. There’s a difference between independence and abandonment, however. When your child has fallen off the slide and is bleeding and screaming bloody murder, that’s a good time for your to end the phone call you’ve been on for the past ninety minutes and check to see what your child is doing. There’s only so much comforting a stranger can do in that situation.
3) Fun is playing. Playing is not seeing if you can break the equipment. The equipment on playgrounds is mind-bogglingly expensive, as I know (we’re trying to raise funds to put in a playground at the new school being built). While it won’t last forever, watching your child trying to jump up and down to find a stress point on the plastic tunnel and then actually breaking through the top of it is more than a little depressing. Having him sneer and swear at me when I ask him to please be careful and look out of the equipment goes beyond unacceptable.
2) Back to the snacks thing. I’m sure you’ve run into this issue at school where you have to be sure that anything you send in is at least peanut free because of allergies. Those allergies don’t go away just because you’re on the playground. While I love that you and your child want to share, giving my child chocolate candies without seeing if it’s ok first is dangerous. Fortunately, Little Miss knows she has a dairy allergy and needs to check with me before eating anything, but not all kids will do that.
And the number one thing not to do at the playground?
1) Don’t leave your kid there alone. Wow. While he might be seven or eight, he obviously doesn’t know anyone at the park who is watching out for him. As mature as he may be, this park is not in a neighborhood where there are houses nearby. There’s a busy street just outside the park borders. And the few families that are playing aren’t going to necessarily be here the whole time to babysit him. Life’s busy — and trust me, I get that — but bring your work to the park if you have to or take him with you. You don’t know what or who is lurking when you aren’t there.
I feel much better now. Except for the rain that’s pouring down outside that is going to continue for the next ten days. Unless, of course, the rain turns to snow. On the plus side, I won’t have to worry about park issues for another eight months!
So what are your biggest playground don’ts?