Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where's MY margarita?

The pushing that I saw at the picnic? That happened long after the jump rope incident. The pushing happened, I've concluded, because my kid wasn't tuned in to what the group was doing.

They were playing 4-square. I was too far away to hear anything. What I saw was everyone shift position except for Q, who just stood there with her gaze locked on some pebble or bug or who knows what. So everybody shifts positions. Q doesn't move. Doesn't know she's holding everybody up. So the kid (unfortunately the same one that kept pulling on the jump rope) reached over and gave Q's shoulder a little shove. Basically, a kind of, "Hey buddy, wake up and take two steps to the left already, we're trying to play this game here and you're holding everybody up."

I see Q respond to being pushed with the good ol' side-to-side head-shake thing, in that let-me-tell-YOU-a-thing-or-two attitude, because after all, who likes to be awakened with a shove?

But people...what are the kids who are playing with her supposed to do? It has got to be exasperating to deal with an inattentive playmate. And then to be told off because you tried to get her to tune in? Sally walked away with her arms crossed and sat on the edge of the playground, and I don't blame her.

Yes, I obsess about this stuff. But just ignoring it is not the answer. Letting the kids "go work it out" is not the answer. What in the world do THEY know about "working it out"? I think that's kind of dumb, frankly. And irresponsible of the adults.

In short: unsupervised play time? Not such a great idea.

You can't have the adults pooled at one end of the park and have the kids too far away to intervene in a moment's notice. Hyphen-Mama got it right in her comment about the parents who just go sit on a park bench and yap away, essentially leaving their kids unsupervised.

I'm not saying you stop the kids from falling down. I'm not saying you stop the kids from interacting with each other. I'm saying, you have to BE THERE. You have to HEAR what your child said, what the other kid said. You have to SEE what happened and how. And as things turn ugly and poor choices are made, then you intervene as necessary.

But what sucks about this? While you're still on kid patrol, the other parents are kicking back, building rapport, getting friendlier with each other. And you're at the other end of the park, alone with the kids. Like you're the lifeguard on duty.

How many lifeguards on duty actually look like they're having any fun?


Patois said...

Didn't read this before replying to your email. Still, Sally was pretty good about "evening" the score and going even more for the victim by being relegated to the playground.

CM said...

What do kids know about working things out? Well, maybe nothing. But is it so bad if somebody gets shoved and there's a misunderstanding? Isn't that eventually how they learn to work it out, or at least shrug it off?

I think it's great that you want to help your kid learn how to resolve her conflicts. Just suggesting that if you want a margarita, maybe it's not so bad to go get one.

gudnuff said...

CM, you are so right. It's no biggie when it happens the first time. Or happens randomly. And Q does shrug things off, which is awesome.

I don't leap to my feet with every careless comment or angry glare or roll of the eyes (these are preteens we're dealing with). I'm on the lookout for patterns, for potential long-term issues, such as Q's inattentiveness. If I could watch via closed-circuit television, I totally would, with my feet up and an ice-cold margarita in my hand. Let the shoving commence!

Hyphen Mama said...

See... I'm so totally torn. I can see it both ways. You need to let kids have enough space that they can learn to interact with other kids. At the same time, my kids are small... and they have NO IDEA that what they see isn't theirs for the taking. I AM that parent who's not over gossiping with the other parents, as I'm the lifeguard on duty, because I have 2 different kinds of kids: I have one who needs guidance because she'll be beaten up and one kid who will likely start beating other kid's butts very soon. I feel it's my responsibility to not let my kid beat up other kids. Can you imagine if I just let him go and told the parents of the other kids that their kid just needs to stand up for themselves? Stupid. If parents weren't required for things like PARENTING, children would be born like a sea turtle... born and head for the ocean all by themselves. Alas, that's not the case.