I don't want to be one of those "helicopter moms" who hover around their kids, speaking for them and protecting their every move. But I also don't want my kids to be pushovers. Nor do I want them to be bullies. The conflict between all of these feelings always manages to raise it's ugly head when the kids and I are on a playground.
Recently, we met some new friends at a playground for a playdate. (PS, this was a friend of a friend set up, and she reads my blog, and our kids are the same age and genders - how cool is that?) When we first arrived, we had the playground to ourselves. Then a few other kids showed up, and everyone seemed to be playing together fairly well. We were able to have adult conversation, interrupted only by our three year olds attempting the monkey bars, or climbing a ladder that was a bit too high for them. Par for the course in playground land.
Then the first BUS arrived. Daycare or camp kids - I don't know. They swarmed. And it's fine that the playground was crowded, but now our 3 and 5 year olds are mixing with ages 4 to I swear 12. And those 12 year olds are not keeping an eye out for the little kids they might squash. Of course, this led to a severe back up at the entrance to the slide where kids were lined up caught in the tube, waiting for their turn to go down. Who was up there running the show? Yeah - some twelve year olds being bossy. As our kids tried to wait for turns on the monkey bars or other slides, bigger kids just passed them by or basically crawled on top of them as in the case of the ten-ish year old climbing UP the slide over children going down it. Then a large 100 passenger (okay 16) van arrived and MORE daycare kids showed up. Madness and mayhem ensued, so we gathered our kids and went to look at the pond.
I do not have an issue with sharing the playground. Clearly, it is public domain! But I do have an issue with kids with no manners. By no means are my children angels. And they do not always use their manners - especially at home. But they seem to do a good job in public and at other people's houses, which makes me extremely happy. HOWEVER, it is very hard to reinforce manners when other kids are not taking turns, or won't share etc. When these kids are just random kids at a public place, what do you do? Like when there's a bossy kid in the tube at the McDonalds playland - no parent in sight - and he won't let your children pass through to get to the slide? May I remind you, it's the ONLY way to the slide, and he's pretending to be some sort of guard, but he's got my kids and two others crying because they JUST WANT TO SLIDE!
I'll admit. I've stepped in once or twice to remind other kids we have to take turns and that they should make a line. And I try to make it a general statement like "we need to take turns" rather than, "hey you. Get the f out of the way you jerkface!" I've also tried to tell Warren to ask please for a turn, and then to be assertive when said
jerkface child does not take a turn. My advice to Warren is to say, "excuse me. I've been waiting for my turn and NOW it's my turn." Of course, I'm sure the tone he uses is less than bossy. Again - teach him to walk away, or stand up for himself? And to what degree should I make him stand up for himself?
I should send Elaine to handle all bullies. But then what good would that do? Is it better to have your mom stick up for you or your sister? How do I teach my kids to use their manners yet be assertive? And where do you draw the line from supervising to interfering in child's play?