Monday, January 6, 2014

Playground politics

I don't know if people get as stressed out as I do taking their young children to the playground. From posts I've seen online I'm guessing that yes, some do. One woman wrote very eloquently about the amount of anxiety surrounding taking small kids or babies in public at all - the constant terror of the kid "having a meltdown", of being looked at as a bad parent, of people being mean to you. And I hate to say it...but all of this stuff is very real. I have had people be mean to me in public because my kid wasn't being a perfect angel at that moment - and I used to be one of those bitches who assumed if your child makes so much as a peep that you suck and "don't know how to control your kid". I never said anything to anyone but I'm sure I did a lot of eye-rolling and loud sighing. All of which I would now retract if I could, believe me. 

But yes, I can see how women become very isolated and afraid to even leave the house - at a certain point the stress of being out isn't worth it. As a single parent I kind of don't have that luxury - I don't have a husband coming home every night to connect me to the "real" world. So we HAVE to get out every day whether I feel like it or not. And for cost effectiveness, public playgrounds it is.

I think I've come a long way in learning the subtle etiquette of the playground and trying to relax and be cool...but I'll freely admit I still kind of hate it. I hate the screaming and pushing matches that almost always result from the pile of generic sand toys that seem to be everywhere. HATE IT. I wish bringing of personal toys to public playgrounds was banned. I have never brought our toys because I don't want them to be carried off home innocently by other kids...and I don't trust B to share. I know this is shitty, but I just don't. And I don't want my kid to be the mean one pushing everyone away from his toys and throwing a fit when someone touches something of his. I know this is something he's going to have to learn soon. But can it please wait until I'm not in my third trimester anymore? Because right now I really can't deal.

So our trips to the playground almost entirely consist of me reprimanding B for pulling things out of other kids' hands, flinging sand in their faces, and running off with their toys. Then there's the fun of grabbing him in the nick of time before he gets his head kicked in by kids on swings (we had such a close call today everyone in the park froze and gasped and I pulled every muscle in my body while sprinting to grab him out of the way - and screamed "Jesus Christ!!!" at the top of my lungs). 

Then there's the fun of standing around with the hot sun beating on my face while he runs back and forth on the same piece of equipment that has precipitous drops on both sides and tons of bigger kids running over him like steamrollers, when I'm desperate to sit down because I feel like my vagina is going to fall out, but I can't because these playgrounds have one bench and it's always covered with people's diaper bags, and too far away if I need to sprint to keep B from getting his head kicked in by kids on swings. 

Thankfully one park in particular has really nice people who tend to all "get it" and understand when my kid throws a fit and are on top of their own kids' behavior so I don't worry so much about B being pushed around by bigger kids. But still I find the whole experience stressful, exhausting, and unpleasant. Still, I accept that for B's benefit, going to playgrounds is something we must do, and just about every day. Doesn't mean I have to like it, though.


  1. Thankfully I haven't had to deal with too much playground politics. There is rarely anyone at the playground we go to. Only once did I have an uncomfortable situation where I put Annelise in the infant swing (the only one) and someone came with their child and stood right next to me waiting for us to finish. They saw I had just put her in, did they think I would push her twice and be done.

  2. I love going to our indoor mall playground. Everything is padded and big kids aren't allowed. There's even padded seating for the adults. Have you looked for one like that? The outdoor parks are exhausting, especially when you factor in random dogs, which we always seem to encounter.

  3. We must be lucky that not many kids bring toys to our park so we don't have that issue. I've had to be firm with some older kids which is uncomfortable for me but I'll be damned if I'll let some kid run over my kid! I'm more uncomfortable with the dynamics with the other parents, that's why I hate to go.