the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Playground Etiquette

So, Max and I braved the 90-degree heat this morning (but at 9 a.m. it was only 93 degrees, now it's 97 degrees) and went to the park. Big deal, right? I don't usually bother to tell you about our trips to the park. I push Max around in the stroller for 30 minutes or so (depending on how tolerant he is of being strapped down and how tired I am) then we hit the playground. Boring, boring. Although a couple of weeks ago, Max did find an empty beer bottle in the jungle gym. I freaked out a little about my 16 month old carrying around a glass bottle (and then I was all "who the hell leaves beer bottles in jungle gyms on the freaking BABY PLAYGROUND?!"), but I got over it. He climbed out of the jungle gym and immediately handed the bottle to me. Good boy, Max.

Anyway, the Max and I were chilling at the playground, blowing bubbles, sliding down the slide, climbing in the jungle gym, the usual. Then we went over to the swings, which Max doesn't particularly like, but I always put him in a swing for a little while despite that (surely he will LEARN to like the swings).

ANYway, Max was busy enjoying his first 10 seconds of swinging then begging to get out when this little boy comes over to me, wanting me to push him in a swing. This kid is maybe 2 years old, and his verbal skills aren't so good. Because most small children can only *really* be understood by their parents.

I'm not really sure what the proper etiquette is for this particular situation. Is it ok to put some other person's kid (whom you have never so much as seen before) in a baby swing? Are you allowed to play with a stranger's kid at the park? I mean, I wouldn't want some random stranger playing with my kid without permission.

Anyway, so I asked the little boy where his mommy was. Response: *stare* *point to swing* *hold arms up* I looked around, saw one guy with a little girl playing nearby. No resemblance AT ALL to the little boy and paying no attention to us. Not the kid's dad. I looked around some more. And saw NO ONE on the baby playground. There were a few parents and children on the adjacent big kid playground, but none of them were paying attention to the kid or seemed to be looking for a missing 2 year old.

So I rescued Max from his swing and put the stranger kid in a swing and pushed him for a little while. Max seemed to enjoy watching the other little boy having fun in the swing. As I mentioned before, it was 90+ degrees outside, and we'd been out in it for about an hour and a half at this point (but slathered with suncreen, wearing sunglasses, and with plenty of water on hand). Max was getting sweaty and irritable and wanted to be held. The stranger kid wanted to be pushed in the swing and did not want to get out. But it was *really* time for me to take Max home. By that time the guy with the little girl had come over to the swings, and I was trying to persuade the little boy to let me get him out and go find his mommy. Max was squirming and whining, and the guy was like, "I'll get him out." So I shrugged, and said ok. So that guy took the stranger kid out of the swing, and an older little girl (meaning she was about 6), perhaps the kid's sister, came over and led the stranger kid over to the big kid playground, and I assume, their mom/nanny/grandparent/other guardian.

That whole situation was weird. Who takes a toddler to the park and lets him wander off completely by himself? Not at all within sight? And lets him talk to random strangers without supervision? Well, try to talk, anyway. I mean, I've interacted with plenty of kids at the park, but until now the parent or grandparent of the kid in question has been right there, ready to pounce should the interaction between our kids turn nasty (e.g., should Max try to hold their kid's hand or should their kid poke Max in the tummy, both of which have happened before). It's weird when some random kid comes over and wants you to push him on the swings. And weirder when you can't figure out who he belongs to.

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