I had a few hours to kill with my two little girls, so I took them to the play area at the Larco Mar shopping center. We stop by there frequently, and my girls are adept at finding some other nice kids to play with for a half hour or so. They’re still at that age where they can become fast friends almost instantly, and when it’s time to leave, they say goodbye to their new companion with a heartfelt hug.
That part of going to the playground I like.
What I don’t like are the hoards of unsupervised little beasts that go launching themselves off the equipment like human missiles without any regard to human life. These are of the 7 to 13 year old variety, old enough to have grown a bit of muscle…but no brains, and no regard for any living thing besides themselves.
My wife was getting her hair done, so I didn’t know how much time I was going to have. Could have been 45 minutes, could have been 40 days and 40 nights…there’s no way to predict. I was a little concerned when we arrived at the play area to see it swarming with kids, but I hoped that they’d behave themselves.
There is one of those corkscrew slides and right away the older kids started running up the slide while the younger ones tried to go down. This resulted in a repeated logjam of humanity as the kids met in the middle and got stuck. Then you had these kids that would go down to the end of the slide and just sit there while the other kids piled into them causing another logjam.
So I’m observing this, and frankly I’m worried about my two little ones getting smashed in the crush of humanity. So, using my best teacher voice, I start telling the kids to get off the slide. I also have to stop the other kids from going UP.
“That’s dangerous,” I would snap, mostly for the benefit of the parents in case they decided to object to my policing the situation. I needn’t have worried, they were all irrevocably connected to their cell phones. The screens lit their faces up white like vampires. “You’re going to get hit by a kid coming down…don’t go up!”
Actually, a part of me kind of wished a parent would object because I was starting to get angry. The kids gumming up the slide struck me as disrespectful. “Finish the slide and vacate the area!” If some parent told me to stop saying that I was going to put him in a headlock…but nobody objected.
It didn’t take long to establish some order, and soon there was a nice line of kids patiently waiting their turn to use the slide. There was this one little kid, though, who refused to listen to me. “Don’t go up the slide!” I’d snap. I’d get really close to him and obtain significant volume and the little brat would just completely ignore me and keep going up. “It’s dangerous, you’re going to get smacked by a kid coming down,” and he’d just carry on. Finally my 3 year old got involved and got right in his face. “You’re a bad little boy!” she howled (all these conversations were in Spanish of course). Finally I had to drag her away because I thought she was going to punch him in the face. It pained me to stop her honestly.
After a while my girls migrated over to the grassy area and started playing with some other nice little girls so I could retire from my duties and relax a little. Let me tell you, this whole playground stress is just typical for a parent. There will be 10 good kids and one total brat who ruins everything for everyone. I’ll stand close to my kids and “deflect” some kid who is out of control, running at full speed, and on the verge of colliding with my girls. I see no reason to stand by and permit some reckless brat to crash into my girls.
I’m looking forward to the day when my kids have a little more mass. It’s amazing how quickly an unsupervised playground turns in to “The Lord of the Flies.” Now, this is the internet, so people who don’t have kids are probably going to judge me on this post. Whatever, I’m right. Human beings need to be taught lessons in courtesy, kids and parents both.