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Save the playground

23 Mar

The scene:  two dads and I were pushing our kids in swings at the playground.  All three of us watched as a group of 9 to 12-year olds played a game of “grounders” on the playscape.

NOTE: This game appears to involve one kid closing his eyes and occasionally yelling “grounders!” Meanwhile, the other kids climb all over the playscape.  I have no idea if there are winners, if someone is “it”, or if points are scored.  However, I have seen it played many times at the playground by my house, and most kids seem to walk away happy and exhausted.

Dad #1:  “You are thinking the same thing as me, huh?”  He is thinking that one of those kids is going to slip and fall off the slick plastic playscape roof.  They keep climbing on top and dangling off the side.  Game strategy?

Me:  “Yep. Kids will always find a way to play on something as it was NOT intended.  But, let’s not take pictures. Somebody might decide the playscape is unsafe and remove it.”

Dad #1:  “Right. Some over-protective mom might decide it’s too dangerous.”

Dad #2:  “Man, we did way more dangerous stuff when we were kids.”

After our short parental conversation, I thought that this chat could have gone another way — we could have decided to tell those kids to get down from the playscape roof.  We could have told them that they were not allowed to play that way.  We might have prevented a 9-year-old from taking a bad fall. Maybe 8 feet down. Onto wood chips.   

We could have done that.  But that would have ruined all the fun they were having.


The poop monster

2 Mar

A friend of mine asked (on facebook) at what age moms were allowing their kids to go to public restrooms by themselves. A few with young boys (age 5 or so) said that they stood outside the men’s bathroom, but let the boys go in by themselves while mom “stood guard.” Most, however, mentioned ages like 8, 10, 13 and even one mom accompanyed her 17-year-old daughter to the restroom!

Last Sunday evening, I was out to dinner at a family chain restaurant with my kids, my brother and my sister-in-law. My daughter, age 6, announced she was going to the restroom. By herself. She did need one confirmation from mom:

A: Are the toilets aujomadic?
Momma: No. They are not automatic flush.

Side note: She hates those things. The sensors are not meant for children — they go off while the kid is still on the pot. FLUSH! My sensitive offspring leaps right off the toilet and hits the ceiling.

After my daughter left the table, I announced to my brother “I’m now an outlaw mom.” He was confused. Clearly, letting my 6-year-old daughter into woman’s restroom by herself could lead to my arrest. Child abandonment. Neglect. Endangement! There are pediphiles lurking in every suburban family chain restaurant!

However, I would like to think that in some small way this is a teaching moment. I am teaching my daughter self-reliance. She can find her way. She knows the difference between adults that she can ask for help, and “strangers” that should be avoided. She does not need her mother to be safe. And she does not need her mother to wipe her butt.

Self-Reliance as a Core Value of Parenting