Friday, October 26, 2007

At the playground on Tuesday, A filled all the buckets from the sandbox with wood chips and carefully lined them up on a bench. Thankfully no other kids showed up to demand seating or sand toys.

I can’t decide how to manage the kids’ use of public space. I would lean toward letting all but the most obnoxious behavior go, but the parents at Bethlehem playgrounds tend to micromanage the kids’ play. Disapproving comments have been made about rather innocuous behavior: A using trucks outside of the sandbox, C putting wood chips on the slide, both kids climbing up the slide. I understand complaints about their more annoying tricks- monopolizing one of the slides for an hour, hauling buckets of water into the sandbox. But even then I don’t know when to intervene. Yes, I understand you don’t want your kid to get muddy, and it’s hard for her to watch someone else making a moat when she’s not allowed to do so herself- but 75% of the sandbox is still available for her use. (Pouring water down the slide is something I don’t allow, because that ruins the slide’s attractiveness for everyone.) Yes, I understand that taking turns is important, but your kid can take his turn going down after my kid climbs UP the slide. (I was probably lax in letting C sit on a slide reading for an hour last weekend, but given that there were multiple identical slides and that we were at a less rigidly monitored Albany playground, I gave up trying to make him move.) A lot of my enforcement of playground etiquette depends on our exact location, whether toddlers are present, and whether overbearing parents are watching, which means I’m pretty inconsistent. C responds just as poorly to arbitrary restrictions as he does to inconsistency, though, so I’m sort of going with the do-what-you-want-as-long-as-no-one-complains-loudly rule.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Emma said...

I doubt this comes as a surprise to you, but I'm horrified that parents are so micromanaging at a playground!!

I think there's a clear approach that your kids definitely understand, even if they're likely to need help applying it: Share. If you're using all the bench space and someone wants some, you move some stuff. If you're sitting on the slide for an extended period of time and there are other kids around, go find somewhere else to sit. If you're in the sandbox with water, keep it in a corner so there's some regular sandbox left for other kids.

I don't personally think you should limit them based on other parents' wacky limits. I can see how that's uncomfortable, definitely. So it wouldn't be strange if you chose to sometimes.

Wacky strict parents.