Friday, June 26, 2009

what am i, an asshole magnet?

Today is a really yucky day. Hazy, humid and gross - but not raining. So I brought the kids to the playground before going grocery shopping.

Brandon likes the "giant playground", but it's designed for older kids. He's able to manage it, but Jackson needs a LOT of help with it. I mean I literally have to climb with him and hold his hand. So naturally I prefer to go to the "small playground" nearby - designed for little kids, nothing too difficult for Jackson to manage, no gaps big enough for him to fall through, etc. Brandon really does love the Giant Playground, though, so I promised we could go there for a few minutes if we went to the Small Playground first.

Jack had never worn Crocs to the playground before - he usually wears his Robeez knockoffs, which are more comfortable for him, and harder for him to pull off, but also a lot more slippery when trying to, say, climb a slide. So consequently, he managed to climb up the slide all by himself for the first time. And naturally, he wanted to keep on doing it over and over again, with varying levels of success.

When it was time to move on to the Giant Playground, I was hoping Brandon would have forgotten and we could go straight to the grocery store - there were some much bigger kids there and I'm never comfortable when Brandon is playing in the same space as much older children. No such luck, though, he insisted, and I had promised, so off we went. Brandon hooked up immediately with a kid around his age, and I set to following Jackson around.

After a couple of minutes, we were joined by a kid who was around the same size as Jack, but judging by his speech and motor skills, was probably around 2. When I say that he joined us, I mean that he was following Jack around like a shadow, practically touching him, getting in between me and Jack and making it very difficult for me to stay close enough to keep him safe. He followed us down the slide, and then when Jack inevitably started trying to climb back up the slide, well, he followed along with that, too.

This was the big kid playground, though, and the slide was coincidingly bigger. Jack isn't that good at climbing slides yet - not even the small ones. I don't think it's ever a good idea for more than one child to climb a slide at the same time, even when they're both very good at it - but for someone else's child to be following my rank amateur? Incredibly unsafe.

So I turned to the little boy and said, "please don't get so close. If he falls, you'll get hurt." I turned back to Jackson and put my hand under his bottom to give him a boost and help to keep him from falling. Next thing I knew, the other boy was even closer to Jackson, and had his hand on Jack, too. I gently moved his hand and said, "no, please don't" - in the gentlest, politest way you could ever imagine. I was about to ask him where his mother was - because, honestly, this was getting ridiculous - when I heard a voice shout, "Excuse me, don't talk to my child that way!" Mother of the Year had apparently looked up from her engrossing chickenhead conversation on the side of the playground and was rushing towards me.

I was honestly confused, and trying to figure out whether I had done or said anything out of line, so I didn't say any of the things that this woman deserved to hear. I took the apologetic, confused approach - because that's honestly how I was feeling at that moment. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to come across that way, I just didn't want him to get hurt." This was 100% true.

"I think he just wants to play!" (She thinks. See, if she had been paying attention, she'd know that this was true. It was.)

"I understand that, but he [meaning Jack] is a lot younger than he looks and he falls down a lot. I didn't want him [the tag-along shadow child] to get hurt."

Not a word about how her child was creating an unsafe situation, not only for himself, but for MY child. Not a word about how he had been touching Jack. Not a word about how, if she had been paying attention to her toddler, she would have heard the first thing I said to him and realized that I was trying to keep him from getting hurt. (Because heaven knows that if Jack had fallen, and her child had gotten kicked square in the nose - which is what would have happened - then she would have held me personally responsible, because after all, I was right there.

Nope, not a word about any of that. I apologized again for coming across the wrong way, stated again that I just didn't want him to get hurt, then found Brandon and left. Between the irresponsible, quick-to-blame-others mother and the older boy who was repeatedly shouting, "I'm older, bigger and faster than you!" at the younger kids - I just didn't want to be there, and I didn't want my kids in that situation, either.

The thing that makes me a bit of an odd parent, I guess, is that when Brandon protested leaving, I sat him down on the back of the sit'n'stand and explained to him exactly why we were leaving. I never feel the need to dumb things down for him. "The big kids were playing too rough, and there was a mean mommy who wasn't watching her kid and who yelled at me when I tried to help him. We don't play with people like that." The really messed up thing is that I think he understood, because he stopped complaining.


Kerpickle said...

I just don't understand some mothers! When I am at the playground, I am right with my kids the whole time. How do people just walk away and ignore theit kids? I do the same thing you do too. My kids are told exactly what is going on. My older one even tells me when she wants to leave somewhere now because the other kids are obnoxious!

Mother Hoodwink said...

There are some asshole moms out there. They get all high and mighty that you were insulting their children when they left them unattended. Whether another person hurt him or that kid hurt himself, it would have been her fault. Park equipment is not a babysitter. I hate people.

We're really frank with Gavin too. I think it makes kids more understanding of their surroundings at an earlier age. You did the right thing by just calmly leaving though. People like that are impossible to get through to. They're just too busy with their stupid trashy lives to do something as menial as parenting. (I may be envisioning my former neighbors into this situation. So I might be coming off harsh. Oh well.)

Kerry said...

The best part was when she said, "You could have just said something TO ME!" Yeah, I could have, and I probably would have, if I'd had any idea whatsoever that she was the kid's mother. I honestly thought that he had wandered over from one of the nearby picnic areas, because nobody seemed to be paying any attention to him at all. I thought the mother was there with one of the older kids.

Dianne said...

why is that odd? and why is his getting it messed up?

I assume you were being tongue in cheek because I love the way you handled that

and your kids will be kinder, more thoughtful people because of you

if assholes could fly we'd never see the sun

Kerry said...

Yes, I guess you could call it tongue-in-cheek. We really are "odd" and "messed up", compared to the people around us. And man, am I feeling it lately.