At the sandbox

            I tend to lean towards the left on most measures, and people have been known to refer to me as a raving liberal every now and then.  But, unlike many of my liberal friends, I do not wonder how it is that so many people out there are self-absorbed.  I do not shake my head at those who put themselves first.  I do not ponder how it is that such large numbers of people seem to disregard the needs and rights of others, trampling over anyone in their path to get their way.

            I do not wonder because I spend an awful lot of time at playgrounds, so I have seen where it all begins.

            I have seen seven-year-olds climb the wrong way up the slide, then slide back down, then climb the wrong way up again, all while a line of two- and three-year-olds wait their turn at the top.  Their parents do not intervene, and why should they?  These are probably the same parents I see teaching their children to climb up the slide rather than the steps when they are babies.  All the while, I am repeating like a moron to my children, “Up the steps and down the slide,” while they look at me and wonder why their idiotic mother cannot see that everyone else is going up whatever way they please, as long as they are big enough to have the right of way.

            I have seen children twice Zachary’s size shove him aside at the top of the slide.  It was with great pride that I finally watched him shove back and assert his turn.  I have taught him to be understanding if a smaller child is taking her time or pushes past him, but I am pleased to see he is finally not letting the bigger kids take advantage of him.  Of course, he has no chance of really winning, because they just shove him harder while their parents sit idly by.

            I have seen three little girls come along and use the rope ladder to come down the wall, even though Zach and another child were patiently waiting in line to go up.  I have seen a child use our shovel, then drop it to climb to the top of the climbing frame, where he pushed my son for absolutely no reason at all.  When I picked up the shovel and gathered the children to go home, he looked at me and said, “I was using that shovel.”

            “It is our shovel,” I responded.

            “But I was using it.”

            And so I flat out told the little shit, “But it is our shovel and you just shoved my kid and we are going home.”  Perhaps his caregiver could have pointed this out, had there been one anywhere around.

            I have also seen older children take my kids by the hand, help them do things they cannot do, and soothe them when they hurt themselves.  And I have made a point of thanking them, telling my children to thank them, and complimenting them to their parents.

            I have seen my own children push other children, throw sand at them, drop toys down the slide, and snatch toys.  And you know what?  I have disciplined them EVERY SINGLE TIME.  Discipline is not a naughty word, and it is not about hitting or screaming.  Discipline is about teaching limits.  Whenever I say, “no throwing sand!” I am disciplining.  Whenever I say, “If you want to put that truck down the slide, you need to be holding onto it, because you could hurt someone,” I am disciplining.

            So, if you are one of those parents who is so fucking liberal that you are appalled at the idea of using the word “no” (and yes, there are parents who make a point of never using such a word), if you are a parent who thinks time-outs are stifling a child’s spirit or somesuch shit, if you are a parent who thinks that enforcing turns and rules will destroy your child’s creativity, hurrah for you.  Just keep your kids the hell away from the playground.

28 responses to “At the sandbox

  1. Can we post this at the entrance to the playground? It is a wide line between micro-managing and letting kids be kids. But, there are certain skills that parents need to be teaching their kids, and many of those have to do with how to get along with others. Thank you.

  2. Is the really liberal? I would say–poor parenting.

  3. AMEN! I lean to the left quite a bit as well and yet, you will hear my kid use please, thank you, and sorry and she will take turns. The end.

  4. You are SO right on with this!!
    Great post.

  5. Amen! Thanks for doing your part to make sure we are not bombarded with even more self-centered, egotistical, exploitative little ——s in the future. 🙂

  6. Amen, sister. So many parents seem to think that disciple in overrated and “stifles” the kid. I smell bullshit. I also smell laziness. That’s all it is. Laziness.

  7. You go girl!!!!! I’ve never heard you so mad. I’m huge into “NO” and don’t even get me started on “it’s not fair” and my response to that. I hate those nasty kids too. I can picture your scenerio right now.

    Good for you!

  8. Huzzah! This is so, so true.

    I’m dreading my son getting closer to that bigger age and teaching him how to deal with those type of kids (the 6 and 7s). It is so sad to see him lose that idealism that everyone should be fair to one another. How do you explain to a child that some children are just BAD?

  9. Testify!

    Thing is it’s not loving your child, it’s simple laziness not to discipline them. And my children are old enough now that I see the end result of that laziness – the unhappy teenagers who have no structure or focus, who can’t do for themselves because they never had to try, who can’t cope with a world that doesn’t permit them everything or pamper them or cater to their needs. I see them coming to college and failing because no one had ever let them fail before. It starts so early but the results last for years.

  10. And this is precisely why I gave up the playground life long ago. It’s just too fucking irritating.

  11. Oh dear, have things gotten that bad in our Westside beach playgrounds?

  12. Thanks. Applause.

  13. You make me think of that scene from The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, when Rebecca DeMornay goes down the playground and scares the shit out of the bully kid.

    Except you just gave the parents a great big arm twist. And it was awesome.

  14. “Just keep your kids the hell away from the playground.” Priceless.

  15. We are not raising children – we are raising adults. You are so right – it begins on the playground. I still use the term “They don’t play nice in the sandbox” when referring to other adults! You go girl!

  16. amen, indeed. the brutality of individualism without thought – my child MUST be right.

  17. Ohhhhhhh now I see where Karen was coming from as well.


  18. I love it! The biggest problem with the world today is lazy self-absorbed parents raising their kids to be just like themselves! Or parents who just want to be their kids’ “friend”, and in the process do not teach their kids how to be responsible productive human beings.

  19. Amen!

    Methinks lazy parents hide behind liberal cloaks.

  20. I don’t think it’s just laziness, I think that those parents are even proud of their kids. They do show that they know how to show other kids that they are a somebody on the playground, that they know how to get their way. Isn’t that what society wants to teach us all the time? Be better, be faster, be smarter – Competition is written is capital letters, especially in the US, I find. But there are exceptions – like Australia. Playground is like a piece of paradise in this regard. Every parent, and I mean every parent, tries to teach their kids to share and to accept every kid that steps onto the playground. I wish this view could be spread more around the world.

  21. And so, I would like permission to print this out and send it in to our local paper. I kid. Maybe. This was wonderful. And thank you…because there are so many liberal parents giving liberals a bad name.

  22. So true! It’s a jungle out there. Everything they ever said about the id and aggression is correct, and it isn’t pretty. When my son was small enough for such playgrounds I would keep away from them or risk shrieking out rules at the top of my voice. I handed care over to my husband who, as one of four children with close together births, had seen it all before and was less bothered by it….

  23. I Hate that!! That happens to the mini all the time, she’s sitting there, politely waiting her turn like I taught her and then some kid shoves her over and she has this poor confused look on her face – how could that happen if she followed all the rules? Such a tough lesson to learn and I’m always shocked when other parents don’t discipline either.
    In fact, I wouldn’t even call that discipline. It’s just teaching your kid basic manners.

  24. Sigh. This is why I hate going to the playground– not so much because of the other kids, but because it takes so much damn energy to police my child’s behavior while we’re there. He’s not a bad kid, just fiercely independent and determined (yes, one of the slide climbers, but I don’t let him if other kids are around.) I don’t like hovering, but I also can’t just look the other way if he is monopolizing the swings/throwing sand/etc. etc. So I leave the park more stressed than when we arrived.

    I do think there is something to be said for letting the kids work out their own playground issues sometimes, but never when one kid is older/bigger/ at some clear advantage over the other, and not with physical violence.

  25. Marry me? Please? Bring the husband and kids, we will set up a commune.

  26. I have a hard time taking Monkey to the playground. She’s still so little and although she’s pretty sure on her feet and is beginning to figure out climbing she’s not stable enough to withstand being knocked over by all the little shits that run around like demons while their parents sit on the benches and smoke their cigarettes. Really? Who the hell smokes at a playground anyway? Apparently the majority of the population in my town. I mean, really, what kind of kid gets kicks out of pushing a baby down?? Where do they learn this? Ugh. And I’m always amazed that the parents don’t discipline their children either! Monkey hears “No!” probably too much. But better that than not at all, I think.