This may be my first negative post that I’ve written, but I will try to put a positive spin on it.
Being a stay-at-home-mom can be dull some days. To combat the boredom and ho-hum of the usual I am always on the lookout for fun and new activities. This summer my go to fun and new activity is finding playgrounds with water features. There is this really neat blog/site with a detailed list of some great playgrounds around the Denver-Metro area with water features. I’ve tried many of them (some were not so great), but today I checked out one that was really cool.
It was a twenty minute drive, but when I saw the giant playground I was certain it was worth it. This playground had it all. It had this impressive advanced climbing feature that even adults were using, several swings, a ridiculously tall slide, a playground for 5-12 year olds, a playground for little ones, and a sand pit.
Princess Pea ran straight for the swings. I pushed her for five minutes before she was ready to see what else the playground had. She meandered through the advanced climbing area and saw a small round platform suspended by thick ropes. Pea got so excited and wanted to try out the different swing. I was happy to help her. It wasn’t thirty seconds into her experimental swing before a small four year old girl approached us.
“That’s not a swing.” She told me
“Well, she thinks it is, so we’re going to pretend.”
“It’s not a swing and this area is for big kids. The little kid playground is over there.”
“We can play here.” I said looking around for her authority figure to tell them their child was being very rude.
We played awhile longer at the “big kid” area before we checked out the stellar sand pit. It wasn’t more than a minute into our sandpit exploration before that same girl approached a boy near Pea’s age. He was holding a little shovel and a big plastic rake.
“Can I have one of those?” The girl asked.
The little boy handed her the small shovel. She threw it down on the ground.
“I want that one.” She took the rake from him and walked away to the other playground then tossed it down and didn’t even use it.
The boy’s mother watched the whole thing and did nothing.
After half an hour of playing on the playgrounds, Pea and I hunted down the water feature. We found it. It was this awesome rock garden with fountains, streams, and waterfalls. Pea didn’t even hesitate, she ran up and down the streams over and over. Soon a six year old girl and her brother ran by us. They nearly knocked Pea over. The girl turned to us and said “We’re big kids, watch out for us.”
I wanted to knock her on her butt and tell her to watch out for me, but I didn’t. I encouraged Pea to try other water features and activities. She eventually found a rock with a fountain spraying from it. Pea was pushing it down and enjoying the water. It wasn’t long before the same two kids plus one more came over and crowded Pea from the rock. I told Pea to stand up for herself. I guided her through saying “I don’t like that you took it away” and “It’s my turn” and even “please let me have a turn”. The girl looked at her and said “We’re big kids, we get to play.” The third kid, a girl that had joined them was bigger and took the fountain from them and then directed it so it sprayed all over me. I yelled at her to stop, she laughed and did it again.
Frustrated, but not wanting to parent other people’s kids, I took Pea elsewhere in the water area, but it didn’t matter, those three kids would show up and push her away. I’m embarrassed to say I did nothing. We ended up leaving early. I had sour feelings towards this park, this park that was supposed to be amazing and wonderful and now it was tainted by rude children.
After each encounter with these bullies, I looked around for their parents and yet all I could see was mothers and grandmothers huddled in the shade, eyes only on their phones, oblivious to their children’s actions. Kudos to the three fathers there that played with their kids at the park.
I get that sometimes caretakers need that break and the park is a great place to get it. Children can entertain themselves at the park and caretakers don’t have to be involved as much. It’s actually healthy to let children have independent play, free of adults. I am in no way shape or form saying parents need to watch their kids all the time.
I guess why this situation ruffled me so much was because just last week we had the exact opposite experience at the play place at the mall. There were kids not much older than Pea that encouraged her to play and try new things, there were six year old twins, a boy and a girl that played mountain lion with her. In this situation their caregivers were sitting on the sides on their phones, ignoring their kids.
Here is the point: We need to teach the children how to treat and act to others. Bigger kids shouldn’t get to boss little kids around, four year olds shouldn’t be stealing toys for kicks and giggles under the guise of “sharing” and shouldn’t talk to grownups (or anyone really) in a rude way. We need to teach children how to play and interact with others correctly.
Along with this, we as grownups, as the other child’s parent, or even as the bystander, we need to stop these things from happening. I was completely wrong to let this happen and not stop what I saw happening. I was just as guilty as these miniature bullies because I let it happen.
We as adults, we have more power than we think, we can stop this, but we hesitate, we twiddle our thumbs, we watch, and we don’t do anything. Why? Because we’re worried about backlash. Every time I wanted to act, I didn’t because I felt like someone else would or should, or that the parent of the child would react volatilely. We live in this internet crazy world.
Everyone has a smartphone and can record everything and put it on the internet for the world to see. We have this attitude that parents are to blame on everything and that parents are responsible for everything. We fear the confrontation between the parent and ourselves. We see the prime time TV shows where it happens and we fear backlash.
We must stop being afraid, we must stick up to those children who are learning to bully by not ever being corrected. We must inform parents of their child’s actions (they may not know). We must be brave, for the sake of those just like Princess Pea.
How do you combat bullying?