Park politics

Here it is: I hate going to the park.

Ok, that's a pretty strong statement, because truthfully I enjoy the park. I like taking long walks or, on a miraculous and rare day these days, a nice run. I enjoy watching the ducks, geese and the freaky beaver/otter/large cat that swims thing in the creek. I enjoy pushing my son on the swings and hearing him say "weeeeeeeeeeeee!" ever so seriously. I enjoy watching him go up and down the slide over and over and over.

I do not enjoy having to deal with park etiquette at the park. I am not good at it, and I don't think I want to be.

I have had many conversations with many different friends about this lately. The park is the perfect place to take your kids, but I get an ulcer just thinking about the parental politics of a park outing. Inevitably, there's the Bully, the Biter, the Swing Hog, the Screamer, the Pusher, two Invisible Moms whom you discover are the moms of the Bully and the Swing Hog but only an hour after you've watched said children turn the playground into their lair of mean-spirited domination, the Loud mom who talks incessantly to her child very loudly (sometimes I fear that is me), the Hot Dad (ok, I don't mind this one as much), the Trying to Be Funny Dad, the Nodding Mom who will only nod with averted eyes at your attempts at conversation, the My Kid Doesn't Do Anything Wrong parents, and the dozen or so Holier Than Thou Moms (HTTM) with their backhanded "compliments" and saccharine sweet smiles.

Me? When I'm not the Loud mom, I'm the Terrified Mom with the look of "I don't want to step on your toes but could you please stop your son from pushing all of the other kids as he's been doing for the past 20 minutes while you've been gabbing with your HTTM pal?" on her face. Do I say something to the kid? To the mom? One time when I did say something gently to another kid about taking turns after he pushed his way in front of three kids (mine included) waiting for the slide, I got an icy glare from his HTTM (who hadn't gotten up from her bench the previous ten times her kid pushed his way in front of the other kids in line). I try to make conversation but I'm just not good at it. I try to watch my son and make sure he doesn't hog one type of equipment and and make sure he lets other kids have a turn. Sometimes he throws a fit, and you know what? That's when we move away from the playgroud for a while to cool off or we just leave. I just have park anxiety, and I am not sure why it hits me hard sometimes.

Which is why we bought Boo his own little playset. Free of playground politics. Where we can swing and slide in our jammies if we want. Where his pals can come over and play and I know the mamas won't glare at me or judge me. We'll still go to the park, I'm sure - just not as often.


Cityslicker Mom said...

Eh, parks, who needs em. just kidding. but seriously, the days that I just dont feel like going to the park, my boys have just as much fun if not more in our own back yard. Yah, I feel you on the park politicking thing. It's for the birds.

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Nicole said...

I hear you! Where do some of the moms go? I look around wildly when I encounter one of these pushy kids and I don't see them. I wonder sometimes if I follow my kids around too much because I see kids there age w/no mom in sight.

Good luck w/the park. And, good idea with your own personal playground!

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Hubby said...

Hey, who's Hot Dad? Oh, I guess that's meeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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chichimama said...

Oh yes, the park. Ulgh. Although with two, I find myself letting the older one run wild a bit. I try to check in and yell across the playground at him when he isn't sharing well, but I have to keep a close eye on her or else she ends up face first on the wood chips.

I wish we could get a swingset, enjoy it!

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deputyswife said...

We live right across the street from a park. The boys now think it is their park. Because of this, they frequently scream at kids (from our yard) to get off of their swing. Sheesh.

btw, I am the MKAEM mom. (My Kids ALWAYS Embarass Me Mom)

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Awesome Mom said...

Thankfully my city has so many parks that there never is a ton of people there so we pretty much get to place to ourselves. I tend to be a swing hog *blushes*

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Megan said...

I'm starting to dread the park for similar reasons! Last week, a five-year-old boy had the nerve to take one of my daugher's toys out of our stroller and throw it to his DOG. And of course, his Dad didn't even notice... When I went to (nicely) ask for it back, he threw a fit.

Of course, speaking of dogs, I'm the mom trying to follow my toddler up the play structure while still throwing the frisbee for our off-leash dog. (Who has time to take the kid to the park and then go back another time to exercise the dog??) Of course, off-leash is totally illegal at our park and I've been read the riot act more than once...

Guess we all have our downfalls.

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Sara said...

Oh I hear you! L does tend to be a swing hog, but we pull her out if there are kids waiting. The politics at our park aren't bad, but I can't believe how many people are talking on cell phones while "playing" with their kids! Yesterday I listened to a very passionate conversation about a traumatic breakup go on and on. It was actually embarrassing for both of us. There was also a man talking to a debt collector while his son teetered precariously atop some equipment. Can we just come over to your backyard park? :)

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Bridgermama said...

Wait a minute...your park has the "Hot Dad?" We don't have that character anywhere near our neck of the woods. Maybe we should consider moving "over there."

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Mama M said...

LOL - I have to confess that the Hot Dads are not necessarily at the park near our house, but rather the ones by my friends' houses.

I also have to admit that Boo sometimes is the Swing Hog and the Slide Bouncer (who stands at the top and takes forever to actually go down the slide). I'm the Mean Mom who takes him out of the swing to give other kids a turn.

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J's Mommy said...

I did the same exact thing. I went out and bought my own swingset because I, like you, hate parks. It's ridiculous to feel such anxiety but it happens and it happens a lot. I just don't understand some moms. Park politics are so not worth it.

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Juliabohemian said...

I hate those older kids who are too big for the equipment but aren't being supervised. You tell them "this equipment is too big for you. It's for little kids" they look at you like "F--- you lady." It's hopeless.

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Anonymous said...

As a new mom, I think I've seen at the parks what you've attempted to describe but my question is, in the seclusion of your backyard, how will your child learn to negotiate the "hoggers", "cut-in"liners", etc. when he's older and out in the world on his own - in grade school, HS, college, law/medical school? Maybe some park time isn't so bad, despite the lack of park etiquette (as long as no harm is done). IMHO, getting out there and learning to get along with people in tough situations is pretty worthwhile. As for the moms so characterized in your blog, imho, too harsh, don't you think? You caught them on one park outing, maybe they were having bad days and needed to talk with friends and thus, not keeping close watch on their little children. I occasionally also rush to such hard and quick judgments. Last month, I observed a mother of a young boy who was eating by himself at one of the tables at the SWCC. He wasn't much older than two years old and he was pretty adoreable. His mother was sitting with her back towards him, and was very LOUDLY speaking into her cell phone, talking business. The phone call went on for quite a while. The son continued to eat quietly by himself. They may have just finished swimming bc I observed some towels. Anyway, I digress. I thought to myself, poor kid, such a self-absorbed mother she can't take ten minutes to enjoy this magical moment in his childhood - a tasty snack treat on a late summer day with mom. So sad. But as I write at my desk at this moment, I'm thinking, maybe she needed to work right then and there or the household bills would not be paid that month (or some other dire consequences). Who knows?? Anyway, when I'm with my child, I think back to that day and make every effort to be "present" with my son when I'm with him. I also hope that the mother isn't always like that with her son and I caught her on a bad day, acting very thoughtlessly, bc really, little boys are gifts and the time just flies by and soon enough, they'll be grown men with their own lives to live...without momma by their side. Anyway, just some thoughts.

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