Friday, July 07, 2006

The concrete jungle gym

The playground is an interesting mix of social dynamics and relationships. You have the burgeoning manners of the children; you have the adult-child parenting styles; and the parents above it all supervising, chatting and daydreaming. We wander into this new land as an observer and reluctant participant.

I popped E out of his stroller to wander about on his own. He’s still at the wonder what this rock tastes like stage so I have to follow close behind. Pieces of paper and plastic are especially enticing…. E spotted a plastic cheese stick wrapper and went right for it. Seconds after picking it up, a little blonde kid named Dylan probably around 2 comes over to tell E “That’s mine.” Hmmm. OK I tell him if you really want that wrapper take it. It saves me the trouble. The kid takes it from E and then I feel bad. He took that from my son but then I was going to take it anyway. Still, it somehow seems wrong. If anyone is going to take trash from my son it’s me.

So I head over to the stroller to offer E some cheerios. “Here you go. You want some cheerios? You want a snack?” and there’s Dylan again. “Snack! Snack!” I give E his cheerios and then look around for the mooch’s father. I don’t know what all the rules are but I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to hand out food to other people’s kids. Finally I spot Dylans’ Dad (DD) talking on his cel phone.

“Dylan come here.”
“Snack! Snack!”
“Can he have cheerios?” I ask, trying for bemusement with a trace of kids are so darn cute and a whisper of get him away from me.
“He can have one.”

I start to open the container for him and think hmm, I don’t know where his grubby little hands have been so I hand him one. I note that neither DD nor the child say thank you and E runs off, probably spotting a piece of trash on the other side of the playground. No, not trash as it turns but some weird fruit that has fallen across the hedge and E is trying to take a bite. Arrrgh, I don’t know what that is but it’s filthy and covered in dirt and I’m guessing a dietary explosion.

I look back and there’s Dylan rummaging through our diaper bag. He’s found E’s sippy cup and is merrily drinking away. Now, I’m pretty sure I can take my own cup away from another child. There is the crying potential though. Should I cause another’s child to wail? DD is still chattering away on his cel. Given his larcenous, demanding ways, Dylan looks to be the type to throw down a fit…. probably not worth the drama.

So I wait until he finishes and I pack the cup away. I wonder how many other cups Dylan has glommed onto. How many germs are lurking on that tiny mouth. I don’t see any other kids crying but still better to be safe. DD wanders by and I contemplate remarking, you’ve got a little Republican here, demanding things that don’t belong to him, stealing from others and never apologizing. You must be so proud.

Hmm that may cross the line. A quick check of our belongings and Dylan’s hands and we’re off.


Minge said...

Jesus! How did you manage to bite your tongue?

Dan said...

I think every playground in the world has a Dylan. I, however, am a complete bastard, and if a kid takes stuff from Tam or the buggy, I am quite happy taking it from said kid - tears or not! hehe

Steve said...

Wow, why the heck DD even come to the park if he wasn't going to play with his kid? What a waste.

You handled it better than I would have. Kudos.

Steve S said...

Witnessing childrens interaction and the parents reaction (or lack of) to it, is always an adventure.

Last time we went to the park, Kristin was playing with some kids in the sand, one of them was about 1 year old (his dad was right beside him) and the kid dumped sand on Kristin's head. I was watching from a bench a bit farther away, so I was going to let it play out. His dad was there, so he should say something right? Nope and so the kid did it several more times, even though Kristin said stop it. Then I had to step in. Didn't say a word to the dad and didn't blame the kid in the least, he was only 1.

When E's older, these types of instances are perfect scenarios to show them how to handle these situations when you aren't around.

The Brian said...

I know as E gets older the interactions will be more interesting.

It is kind of amazing that the dad checked out. Hang up the phone for a few minutes! yeeesh.

The park is Stanton Park in DC for the locals. I'll miss it. Between our dog and E we've spent many evenings and afternoons there. It's been our backyard for many years.

Minge said...

Next time, whisper in its ear, "I'm going to explode. Run!"

Am I mad?


Probably both.