Life With Nine Kids

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Park Slide Parenting

Today I witnessed a mother give her three year old little girl a very stern time out for going up the slide...but no other kids were using the slide. Mom seemed really angry about it, which is what bothered me most. The kiddie area wasn't busy when it happened, in fact once in a while Sebastian and Penelope ran up the3ft slide, but did mostly other things. Everett went down it a little. Pretty much it was really empty.*

I was really trying to not judge, but I was a little. I felt bad for the little girl. Parents with follow through and well behaved kids are refreshing...but so are happy-go-lucky kids blowing off energy on a playground. I feel that good parents also explain why they demand something that seems hard for the child to follow; clear reasons why the demand should be met by the child complying. A three year old also often greatly benefits from distraction. Examples: Don't climb up the slide, let's _________ instead. Ideas for the blank: swing, climb, run to the next playground, look at the birds, feed the geese, climb the ladder, show me how you do it right...

I pick my battles carefully... ones worth winning. I save my battle gear for my girls when they need to wear proper underwear or shorts under dresses, when they have to be buckled into their car or booster seats, when they do something rotten to one of their siblings or when they need to wash their hair. I'm careful about picking battles because later on I really need to win the ones about shorts/skirts being too short, or no make up until 15. I need to have good reasons to back up my requests when they are 3, 5 or 9 --I need GREAT reasons when they are 12, 14 and 16.

If I would have been bold I would have told the three year old that her mommy is just worried about someone getting hurt and that I only let my kids run up when no one is using the slide. I'd tell her that when people are on it my kids can't run up either and I'm going to tell my kids to stop now too. I'd also tell her, her mommy is doing the best job keeping her safe. Then maybe instead of sitting on the edge of the playground sad looking and very, very confused she would have learned something. Instead (and since the three year old girl wasn't in direct eye shot of us anymore but her mom was) because I was just in a cantankerous mood I said,
"Hey Penelope, Come here!?
She skipped to me, her blue eyes sparkling and her hair blowing in the spring breeze, "What, mom?"
"I want to watch how fast you can run up that slide!"

I'm just really into letting kids be kids.

*kids running up slides IS a pet peeve of mine, and it can be very dangerous for little kids. But in the toddler section of a playground I just felt rather apathetic about it. My kids never run up slides when the playground is busy, if some one is waiting, or if you can't see the top.  If they do and the playground is busy I remind them. It's something I taught them over time, simple common sense I had always thought. This is totally about the angry attitude the parent displayed than a stupid slide, it irritated me!

So as these parenting in public things go I probably have people sitting at home judging me because Sebastian threw a big fit at the park. It's hard to pinpoint what it was about, but he had a melt down. He's three. It totally happens. So I tired to help him but he'd just cry louder so put him down and let him wriggle and roll on the pavilion floor for 10 minutes as he wailed. I'm sure lots of people wished I would have done something different. I offered snacks, I offered distractions, I asked him if he wanted to go to the car... Nothing. He was mad. He stayed mad. It ruined the whole quiet park for a really solid and loud 10-15 minutes. Finally I distracted him by showing him a bird that hopped by. He didn't stop because of the bird, he stopped because he was ready. I bet someone somewhere thought man my kid will never do that. :) LOL.

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