Imagine this: It’s Saturday afternoon at your local park, and your kid is playing on the jungle gym while you chat with friends you haven’t seen in a long, long time. As you get wrapped up in your conversation, you are oblivious to the fact that your kid has made the ill-advised decision to climb to the very top of the jungle gym and balance precariously on the edge.
There are a number of adults nearby. What would you want them to do?
For me, if it was Annabel, I would sure as heck hope that one of the adults would tell her to get down. But it is quickly becoming clear to me that not all parents feel the same way.
Last Saturday Heather and I took Annabel to the park for a play date with my sister and her kids. While there, I saw a pair of boys about eight years old climb to the very top of the jungle gym and stand on a section high off the ground that was not meant to be stood on. I looked around and saw a number of adults in the area, but no one seemed to be paying attention.
Annie on the jungle gym. The boys were standing on top of the green roof!
After mulling it over, I decided to walk over and tell the boys it was dangerous up there and that they should get down. One of the boys rolled his eyes and said, “Relax, Mister. We know how to play on this.”
As I started away, a woman sent me a look that said, “Yikes! I’m freaked out by how high up they are too.” I felt better knowing I wasn’t the only one that felt that way until another woman – presumably the mother of one of the boys – gave me a cold look and said, “They’re fine.”
Okay. So maybe the boys didn’t fall and snap their necks. But the whole situation struck me as strange nonetheless. As a former teacher, I have spent many an hour on “yard duty” where I was expected to say something to kids who put themselves in dangerous situations. The other teachers would back you up too. We all worked together to keep the kids safe.
At the park though it is different. The vibe was less “it takes a village to raise a child” than “tell my kid what to do and I’ll put my foot in your ass.”
What do you think? Was I over-stepping my bounds? Or would you want other adults to be looking out for your kid’s safety? Oy. Who knew trips to the park were so freakin’ stressful!