Playground Drama -- Update - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-15-2010, 03:17 PM
 
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I think your kids are old enough to be given some space, but considering the recent events you may need to supervise a little more until you can figure out what's going on. It's hard to blame the other kids if you are only getting hearsay.. YKWIM?
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Old 07-15-2010, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to everyone who has taken time to respond!

My girls are very much aware of smaller children when they are running around at the playground and sharing equipment. I do agree that bigger kids need to be considerate of the little ones.

However, re: swinging with eyes closed, I honestly don't see how that endangers small children. Even when children's eyes are open, it's not like they can freeze in midair if a small child happens to move in front of their swing, yk? If dd's eyes had been open, chances are she still wouldn't have been able to stop in midair.

The only difference would have been that she would have automatically said something like "I'm so sorry. Are you all right?" Since the 12yo was all about the apology needing to happen before the incident could be "over," I guess that's where I come in. If I'm able to intervene before a small child wanders in front of a swing, all the better.

No, I don't have any interest in being park police. I probably will still read sometimes. I guess I'm still processing the different attitudes about responsibility. As I've already mentioned, there was also a child who accused dd of running over his tiny dog while she was riding her bike.

I DID see this dog running alongside dd's bike while she was riding around the track, and he was indeed running right up against the wheels. At the time, I didn't think it was such a great idea for the boy to bring this tiny dog (like some sort of chihuahua mix) to a park with lots of kids, and just turn him loose.

My 10yo has even noticed some kids kicking this little dog and being really rough with him before. It doesn't seem logical to me to put such a tiny dog in such a situation, and then get mad at my dd because one of his paws are hurt. I honestly don't know if the dog put one of his paws under dd's bike wheel. Dd doesn't know for sure either. She was wishing the dog wouldn't get so close, yk?

So, I don't know if my different perspective is a value difference or a personality difference. VisionaryMom, that's great that you've never encountered any problems like this at the park, and also that you judge yourself as so non-judgmental.

I really haven't had a problem with the personality-or-whatever differences that lead some people to send small children to the park in the care of older siblings, or that lead some folks to think it's okay to let tiny dogs run loose at a park with lots of kids. I tend to think, "To each his own; it's not what I'd do but it's not really my business."

I mean, I was happy to read my book and watch my own kids (yes, I realize I had my lapse where dd called my name and I didn't hear her, but I am generally watching my kids, helping them if they need help, and enjoying their achievements with them; I think I kind of zoned out because I just had my 10yo that night and she normally has so much fun with these friends).

But then these other personalities are getting upset with my dd because of a child wandering in front of her swing, and a dog getting his paw hurt, and I am thinking that "to each his own" isn't totally working here. No, I don't feel it's my role to police small dogs or small children. They are the responsibility of their own families. I just want to get along and have fun at the park.

And, no, I don't think my own children are perfect. I believed my 5yo when she said that she'd tried to sit with the big girls on the equipment, and when the older girl told her to "Get out of here!" she got mad and tried to stick her hand in her mouth. I was less inclined to believe that she'd just walk up to someone out of the blue and try to stick her hand in their mouth -- not because I think she's perfect, but because this isn't how she normally behaves.

Now, I don't agree that trying to stick your hand in someone's mouth (ew!) is the same as punching someone in the face -- but I do still think dd's behavior was unacceptable. True, she has as much right to sit on playground equipment as anyone else does. Being older doesn't give someone the right to say, "Get out of here!"

Nevertheless, older kids will sometimes tell younger kids to get out; it's better for my little one to learn to just move on and play with some of the many kids who actually want to play with her. This is what she did the next time we were there; she had a great time playing with her friends and steered clear of those big girls.

I realize my own family has a lot to learn from this situation, too, and I'm all about the learning. So advice is still very welcome, now and always!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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Old 07-15-2010, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Marsupialmom View Post
In life, there are always going to be mean people that you have to "deal" with.

The best thing you can do for your daughter it to teach her how to handle these older girls. Honestly, "Mean girls" will get worse before it gets better.

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I've heard good things about this book, and it looks like it's time for me to get a copy and read it. Thanks for the reminder!

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Old 07-15-2010, 09:51 PM
 
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It seems to me that you need to teach your DD to be responsible for her own actions.

If a dog is running by her wheels she needs to call out to the other boy to get his dog before he gets hurt. Not just keep riding.

Swinging with your eyes closed when there are alot of other kids on the playground is not a great idea. She may not have been able to stop mid air but she could have yelled 'Look out!' to the 3yo or at the least tucked her feet under the swing so she didn't kick her. My 4yo does this. He figured it out on his own so he didn't kick his brother. Seems to me a 10yo should be able to.

Yes, you do need to be more aware but you need to teach your daughter to be more aware and think about her actions and the consquences they might have.

It's complicated.
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Old 07-15-2010, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems to me that you need to teach your DD to be responsible for her own actions.
I feel like that's what I HAVE been doing all these years.

I taught my own daughters to give the swings a wide berth, and when they were too little to consistently remember this, I stayed close to them and took my parental responsibility very seriously. I did NOT push this responsibility onto the children on the swings, who may have been older than my child, but were nevertheless still children themselves and NOT my child's parents.

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If a dog is running by her wheels she needs to call out to the other boy to get his dog before he gets hurt. Not just keep riding.
I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree here. And if I were posting here about how upset I was with some 10yo who had THE NERVE to keep riding her bike at the park while my dog was chasing her bike, I have a feeling that you'd be admonishing me that I should have been keeping better watch over my dog, NOT holding a 10yo responsible for because she should have "called out to me."

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Swinging with your eyes closed when there are alot of other kids on the playground is not a great idea. She may not have been able to stop mid air but she could have yelled 'Look out!' to the 3yo or at the least tucked her feet under the swing so she didn't kick her. My 4yo does this. He figured it out on his own so he didn't kick his brother. Seems to me a 10yo should be able to.
Have you ever experienced the thrill of swinging with your eyes closed? I have! I used to do this all the time as a child, and there is NOTHING in the world to compare with the sensation. I guess we could demand that all the other kids leave, to avoid having alot of other kids around while dd swings with her eyes closed, but that seems rather unfair since everyone is enjoying the park in the cool of the evening, just as we are.

I'd rather share the park with everyone else who wants to be there (after all, it's a public park and not our personal playspace), and still let my child enjoy flying. I think there's room for both. I just need to learn how to better navigate these situations where little kids are there without parental supervision.

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Yes, you do need to be more aware but you need to teach your daughter to be more aware and think about her actions and the consquences they might have.
The funny thing is, I feel like I've been doing this all throughout my children's lives, but you seem to think I'm encouraging an irresponsible attitude in my children. It's interesting how we all have different values, or personalities, or whatever.

Conversing with you is probably good practice for dealing with the varied attitudes at the park.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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Old 07-15-2010, 11:54 PM
 
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I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree here. And if I were posting here about how upset I was with some 10yo who had THE NERVE to keep riding her bike at the park while my dog was chasing her bike, I have a feeling that you'd be admonishing me that I should have been keeping better watch over my dog, NOT holding a 10yo responsible for because she should have "called out to me."
You're right, that's probably exactly what most people would say if someone were to post complaining that a child swiped her dog's paw with a bike tire at the park. However, even though your DD had the "right of way" and the dog shouldn't have been there, since the dog WAS there, then if your DD saw it the conscientious thing to do would be to stop riding until it was out of harm's way. Your DD may not have seen the dog, and an accident is understandable, and it's too bad that the boy wasn't doing a better job of keeping his pet safe, but ... might as well try our best to keep the dog safe whether it's where it's supposed to be or not, right?

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Have you ever experienced the thrill of swinging with your eyes closed? I have! I used to do this all the time as a child, and there is NOTHING in the world to compare with the sensation. I guess we could demand that all the other kids leave, to avoid having alot of other kids around while dd swings with her eyes closed, but that seems rather unfair since everyone is enjoying the park in the cool of the evening, just as we are.
We have different rules for when we're at empty parks and when we're at full parks; for example, DS likes to climb up slides, and he knows that he's welcome to do so if no one else is using it, but once there are other kids using it he needs to use the stairs instead. The same would go for closed-eyes swinging for us -- once enough other kids were at the park, DS would get a "Hey buddy, there are little ones nearby so keep an eye out while you're swinging" from me.

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Old 07-16-2010, 12:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been learning a lot by seeing what differing opinions even we Mamas at Mothering have regarding playground etiquette. I guess when you consider how differently grown women see things, it stands to reason that when many of the people supervising the children at my local playground are mere children themselves, there are bound to be a lot of areas where I can't just assume that everyone will see a situation like I do.

When I think of older children's responsibility to be mindful of younger children, I think of examples like:

1) When you are clambering around on the equipment, you need to be patient with a slower-moving child in front of you; you don't go around her unless there's enough space to safely do so without knocking her off-balance.

2) When playing tag, if you suddenly see a small child in your path, go around her. Do everything you can to avoid crashing into her.

3) If you're sliding down the slide and notice a child playing at the bottom, stop yourself rather than landing on her.

4) Before climbing up the slide, look up to make sure no one else is trying to slide down (not that I've ever seen anyone get hurt from someone coming down while someone else was coming up, honestly, but some folks seem to see this as the ultimate in dangerous situations).

I think the rest of the playground area differs from the swing area in that the kids playing on the general playground are bound to periodically intersect with other kids' space. It's a shared playspace, whereas I think the child on the swing "has" the space that she is swinging in.

If others get hurt by a child on a swing, it's because they went into the swinging child's space. Sure, it's great if the child on the swing happens to notice that a collision is about to happen and is able to quickly do something to prevent it; I just don't think it's reasonable to hold a child immersed in the throes of "flying" to be on the alert for other children who might walk into her space.

I agree with laila2, ollyoxenfree and VisionaryMom who talked about the importance of teens being welcome in public spaces. I think this welcome should include older kids who still want to enjoy carefree pleasures like swinging with their eyes closed, even though they're past the "tiny" stage.

As far as only swinging with eyes closed if there's no one there, my kids actually enjoyed playing on a deserted playground when they were tiny. My 5yo would probably still enjoy this, but my 10yo only finds it interesting now at the "higher traffic" times.

So maybe the people who think they shouldn't have to supervise their little ones too closely around the swing area should choose the lower traffic times, since most 2 or 3yo children will be just as happy being the only child on the playground as they will be a in a crowd.

Of course, this doesn't work for little kids who have to wait for their older siblings to take them. Even though school is out for the summer so the older sibs could technically take them at 10 AM, I imagine the sibs also prefer going at the higher-traffic times. So it's just a case where we all have to live and learn.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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Old 07-16-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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I don't necessarily disagree with anything you've said, there are just some nuances about it that I'm having trouble putting into words. I keep noticing that you use lots of "should" statements: the dog shouldn't be there, the 3yo shouldn't be by the swings, parents of small kids shouldn't allow them near swings unsupervised, and if they're going to they should come when the park is emptier, etc. And all that is true.

But it happens nonetheless, and IMO it's no big deal for other parkgoers to acknowledge that those things might happen even though they wouldn't in an ideal world, and do their best to keep everyone safe even though they "should" have certain spaces to themselves. In a public space like that, especially at peak times, it's unreasonable to expect to be able to be completely unobservant of what others are doing, because they may very well enter your space unexpectedly and require you to adjust your motion (even if you have "right of way") to avoid hurting them unintentionally. I realize that this is an extreme example, but while driving, you'd do everything to avoid hitting a jaywalker even though they shouldn't be in the road, right?

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Old 07-16-2010, 01:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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limabean, I totally agree with you that sometimes stuff just happens. Even though I closely supervised my children when they were toddlers, there were some occasinal falls and head-bangings and the like.

One of the beautiful, and sometimes distressing, things about life is its messy unpredicatability.

I seriously do think it's great if one of my children notices that another child's about to get hurt, and is able to do something to prevent the accident. I just don't believe in blaming them if they don't notice.

I'm really not into BLAMING as a way of life, anyhoo. If one of my children as a toddler got into some scrape, I said Gosh, I "should" have been more alert, but I dropped the ball on that one. And I resolved to do better next time. I didn't waste time beating myself up.

You're right that not everything that should happen does happen, and some things that shouldn't happen do happen. Why blame? Why not just learn from our mistakes? Of course, I don't expect children charged with the care of other children to have this wisdom, especially if they're just worrying about how to explain to Mom about how the baby got a bump on her head.

That's another one of those situations that maybe "shouldn't" be but just is. For me, one key to serenity is going to be learning to navigate those situations that "shouln't" be in the way that I "should," LOL.

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Old 07-16-2010, 01:57 AM
 
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I don't want you to think that I'm blaming your DD, because you're right the 3yo and the dog *shouldn't* have been there.

I guess what I'm trying to say is there is a certain amount of common sense involved. Sometimes things happen that shouldn't and it's up to us to do what needs to be done sometimes. It isn't fair and it isn't necessarily right but it's the way life is.

I have swung with my eyes closed and it is a great feeling but sometimes we can't do what we want to do, when we want to do it because there are other people in the world. It's like limabean said, rules are different when the playground is full than when it is empty.

It's complicated.
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Old 07-16-2010, 01:58 AM
 
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I kind of feel like you expect the world to work around your girls but you don't expect your girls to work around the world.

It's complicated.
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Old 07-16-2010, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I kind of feel like you expect the world to work around your girls but you don't expect your girls to work around the world.
Hmm. I'll have to think about that one.

It's true that I've been expressing a lot of my angst in this thread, since you guys are one of my online "families" and I so much value the input I get here.

So maybe it seems like I'm walking into every situation and whining about how things aren't the way I want them to be -- but I'm not. When these various situations came up, I stayed calm and I feel I was pretty polite to everyone involved. I didn't sit on the park bench "processing" all this with the other people at the park like I've been processing it here.

Now that I've been removed from the situation for a couple of days, I'm actually feeling excited about discussing all the different attitudes and beliefs, or personalities, as one other poster here prefers to think of it. We all have such unique perspectives re: how far individuals should be expected to bend in order to promote the greater good.

What kinds of experiences should individual kids be expected to give up to make allowances for small children who are running around without parental supervision? I agree that we should all make allowances for one another within reason -- it's just fascinating to hear different people's views as to which allowances are "within reason," and which ones aren't.

I'll have to figure out which allowances I'm expecting "the world" to make for me and my girls. So far, I think I'm mainly asking for people to read my humungo posts here, LOL. I sure appreciate those who have chosen to do so, but of course this is TOTALLY a choice, and not something anyone is being forced into. Thanks again all for participating.

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Old 07-16-2010, 10:50 AM
 
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OK the closest thing I can think of is if a dog or a toddler ran into the street while you were driving. No, they shouldn't be in the street; yes, it's the owner/parent who is responsible for them, but you as the driver should do everything in your power to avoid hitting them. You don't just keep driving because it's "not your responsibility & you're having fun," you know?

It's the same with the bike & the dog, or the swing & the toddler. If you are "operating a moving vehicle" (whether it's a bike or a swing or a toy car or whatever), you need to be aware of those around you. The parents should absolutely keep their toddlers away from the swing, just like they'd teach them not to run into oncoming traffic. But there is responsibilty on the swinger's side as well to avoid hitting stray children. Like I said upthread, your DD could still swing with her eyes closed, just go over & stand near the swing while she's doing it so you can shout "look out" to her if kids run in front or redirect the toddlers... particularly if this is a very busy playground. No, it's not your job to protect all the kids in the playground, but it's a nice gesture, especially since your DD is essentially losing one of her senses (her sight) and won't be aware the way the other swingers would be.

So I guess in answer to your question, I would not necessarily expect a kid to give up fun experiences to make allowances for smaller kids, but I would expect them to modify their experiences a bit &/or have you there instead. Climbing up the slide - not OK on a crowded playground when kids are coming down. Swinging with eyes closed - not OK on a crowded playground unless you're standing by 'on guard'... Knocking over little kids because they were in the way of a race/game/etc. - not OK. Continuing to bike when there is a small animal underfoot - not OK. Continuing to spin a merry-go-round when a little kid is trying to climb on/off - not OK.

Just my opinion of course... I guess technically I don't 'expect' the world to make ANY allowances for DS. I hope that they do, & I appreciate when they do, but I am always looking out for my toddler & I don't expect anyone else to. But I do expect my toddler to look out for others, and I do intervene when he's not doing so. And I make sure to understand the ways that my parenting differs from others & make appropriate accomodations.

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Old 07-16-2010, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I sure don't ever think it's acceptable to drive with my eyes closed, even if someone in the passenger-seat is "spot-checking" to tell me who's in my path. I think there's a reason why you need a license to drive a car but not to swing.

That said, I want to make it clear that I see nothing wrong with saying, "Oh, I'm sorry you got hurt!" to a hurt child, whether it's a situation the child walked into by being unaware or whatever. My own children normallly do say, "I'm sorry" or "Are you okay?" if they bump into someone; it's kind of silly to sit anylazing who's "at fault" -- it's much more human to show concern when someone gets hurt.

I think I let myself get too bent out-of-shape by the whole gawdmotherish feudlike quality of the girl's demand that my dd apologize so it could be "over." She's just a 12yo little kid, after all, trying to figure out how to protect her little sister; the other day I felt so sorry for her when she was yelling at her for wanting to play under the park bench. She honestly doesn't seem to know when it's safe to just let the child be and when a situation calls for more vigilance.

Dd, by the way, really likes the idea that someone here suggested (I can't find the post right now) about expressing sympathy with the person who got hurt without necessarily apologizing ... i.e. "I'm sorry you ran in front of the swings and got hurt." Thanks so much, whoever has suggested this. I'll try to find out who when I get a chance later, or if someone remembers please let me know.

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Old 08-26-2010, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all. I meant to come back sooner to give an update, but we went through a bout of extremely hot weather which gave us an enforced break from the playground drama. Now that we're moving into that wonderful, gentle late-summer-heading-into-fall kind of weather which is my absolute favorite time of year, we've been back enjoying the playground quite a bit.

There is occasional "drama" still, but I'm just working on keeping it in perspective and helping my 10yo to process it and keep it in perspective.

The latest "development" was that when I went to refill our water jug the other day, the 12yo (the same one who'd demanded the apology from my 10yo) started questioning my 5yo over whether she washes her underwear (my 10yo came over to tell me about it)...

A little weird, but another child told me that this 12yo asked her the same question once, too. My 5yo wasn't too upset. As they were leaving she cheerfully called out to them, "Do you wash your underwear?!" My little one is so empathetic, she's really quick to try to "meet people where they are at" and talk with them about the things that interest them.

I guess if that's the worst thing that ever happens, we're doing pretty well.

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Old 01-12-2011, 11:02 AM
 
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Mammal Mama,

I know it is in the middle of the winter, but you had several warm months after this last update. I saw another playground post today and was wondering whatever happened with this situation? Do you have any new updates? How did the fall go?


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Old 01-12-2011, 01:31 PM
 
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I wish U.S. playgrounds had fences around swings.

 

http://koiwai.biz/eng/v1/ch01/01_20120x174_jpg.htm check out the bottom panel

 

Bike, you can stop or move, but with a swing, even when someone is trying it's nearly impossible to stop. About the best you can do (barring being athletic enough to jump off and move the kid) is to not kick your legs forward into the person.

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Old 01-12-2011, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Adaline'sMama, thank you so much for your interest! Things were okay for a while, then they escalated into a full-out bullying situation which I posted about here in another thread. I ended up deciding to switch to the other playground that's near us. It doesn't have swings, yet, but I've started going to neighborhood meetings and at least one other parent in the association (the leader) would like the swings back there, too, for his own kids. He said maybe we can get swings again soon.

 

Dd1 discovered that there's a tree she loves climbing at this other park, and a spinny-thing that she has a lot of fun on (Dd2, at age five, still enjoys playing anywhere, of course). We've also kept in close contact with one friend the girls made at the other playground, but for the time being we've decided that the other playground is safer because there is more parent involvement.


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Old 01-24-2011, 01:54 PM
 
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as in the first situation, i would simply try to give it a bit more time to better assess. see if the "tickling" recurs or if this girl does not respect your daughter's space. at this point it is too soon to tell because the playground scene is a tough one - changes a lot and kids act out.

the only thing that really disturbs me at this time is that you mentioned the girl had killed an animal?!?!? that seems a bit concerning.

but again, if you think there is a chance that you misheard or misunderstood, i would give it some time to better assess.

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Old 01-25-2011, 12:12 AM
 
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I'm sorry it turned into a bullying situation. I read through this thread (not the bullying one), and I don't think there's anything you could really have done differently. Standing guard at the swings, being vigilant about other children who are being mean--that is called parenting. It's not about helicoptering vs free range, but about adequate parenting.

It's the parents' job when their children are at the park to provide them with adequate supervision. Unsupervised kids, even good ones, run wild when there is no one to stop them or enforce rules. It's not fair to put the burden of keeping your kids safe on your neighbors, day after day.

I'm glad to hear this other park has more parent involvement, I think that's a huge factor.
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We actually haven't had any more trouble with the "tickling" girl. She was apologetic later, once she realized that it had really upset dd. Then, as the group of bullies started getting worse and worse, I noticed that this girl and her siblings were hardly ever out there. Her five or six year old sister was really scared of one of the nine or ten year old bullies and his younger sister because of how they would follow her around and kick her when she didn't have anyone there to protect her.

 

Another girl who lived nearby said she hated it when we weren't there, or some other adults weren't there, because she often just had to stay inside; she was that scared of what might happen with no adults around, especially after one of the older boys in the bully-group forcefully molested her.

 

At any rate, I realized that the same factor that was a positive was also a negative. This playground is in a park that is smaller and is on level ground, in easy view of the surrounding houses. I think this makes parents feel more inclined to just let their kids go out and play there on their own. The one we started frequenting later (and will go to again once it warms up) is in the neighborhood, too, but is in a bigger park with hills and trees. It's not in easy view of many residences and is actually bordered by a busy street and not just a side street, so it's more a park where kids are accompanied by parents rather than just going on their own.

 

I do miss the daily interactions we had with a lot of the same kids at the other playground. We do sometimes run into the same folks at our new spot, but it's not so much of an everyday hangout, as it depends on Mom or Dad having time or making time to take the kids out. But because of the bullying that I now see is likely to grow out of the other kind of situation, I realize it's better to lose a little continuity and have the parental involvement. 


Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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