As a general rule, I try not to judge other parents. But sometimes . . . well, sometimes things are so in your face that they are hard to overlook.
Today we took advantage of the warm, albeit dreary, weather and headed out to our favorite playground. All were happy in my family, as were the other children who were playing there, when a final group arrived. As they walked up, the father immediately said to his three-year-old-ish son, “You can’t play in the sand box or else we’re going home.” Well, you can imagine what ensued.
This playground has a particularly fun sandbox, the kind that has two diggers in it that can be manipulated with levers to pick up and dump piles of sand. All of the other kids there, including my own, were either presently in the sandbox or had already hit it. And so this little boy started to cry, of course. And his parents acted like he shouldn’t be crying and were frustrated by this, threatening again to go home. Which just made the boy more upset and caused him to start running away and screaming, saying at one point, “That’s not fair!” as he pointed to all the other children who were playing in the sand. And I thought to myself that indeed, it wasn’t fair.
When I step back and think about this situation, I try to decipher what the parents’ reasoning might have been. At first all I came up with was that they didn’t want him to get dirty. I find that ridiculous since I have a theory that boys should do something every day that makes them need a bath (whether or not they actually get the necessary bath in my house is another matter). Then I concocted a long, drawn-out story of why this boy might not be allowed to play in the sandbox – maybe he’s a sand-throwing addict, but that immediately made me think he should at least have the opportunity to prove himself worthy of sand play on this day. Maybe he was being punished for something he had done earlier in another area of the park. But then, why bring him over to the sand box? To flaunt it in front of him?
No matter the story I wrote in my mind, I always came back to the same issue: If he’s not allowed to play in the sandbox, then why come to that park? I can think of half-a-dozen other playgrounds within a few miles of the area that don’t have any sand whatsoever. In all seriousness, what could they have possibly expected from bringing their son within sight of other kids playing in an awesome place where he could not set foot?
There are certain scenarios that have particular meltdown potential. As we get to know our children, we learn more and more about what to avoid. We shy away from multiple errands with kids in tow, places where there is an abundance of breakables placed at their level, and surely places where other children will be joyfully doing an activity from which they are banned. You can bet I would never, ever take my children to this particular playground in the summer if I was not prepared to let them swim in the kiddie pool. The pool is set just across and in view of the playground, and to put them in that situation and not allow them to swim without expecting a complete and total tantrum from both is, in my opinion, way too much to expect.
As the frustrated mother of this boy proceeded to yell across the lot to her husband, “Let’s just go!” and the boy continued to sob I was so sad. I recognized her tone as my own, and I knew that while it may not be so extreme, I make a similar mistake probably way too often. Just a few hours ago my son wanted to ride his tricycle, which is currently sitting out on our patio waiting to be pumped with air. And I actually got frustrated with him when he continued to ask and complain after I told him he couldn’t ride it right then for various reasons, including the flat tires. It’s too much to expect, really, especially after his beloved trike has been sitting in the garage for the duration of the long winter. So he and his dad are presently out getting an air pump. And maybe some more sand for our sandbox.
——By Beth, PHILADELPHIA MOMS BLOG
This is an original post from the Philadelphia Moms Blog, http://www.phillymomsblog.com. Beth also writes her personal blog, Total Mom Haircut (http://www.totalmomhaircut.com/), and contributes regularly to The Imperfect Parent Blog (http://blog.imperfectparent.com/) and Mama Speaks (http://www.mamaspeaks.com/).