Family Magazine

Observations from the Playground

By Sara Zwicker @SaraZwicker

I spend an enormous amount of time on the playground.  With a 2.5 year old, life at the park is pretty normal for us and we are there a few times a week at minimum.  Ashton wants to run around and play and I want him to expend all his energy so he sleeps at night, it’s a win/win all around. Plus, we only have so many months in MA that I am willing to be outside for extended periods of time without freezing to death, so we soak up as much of the nice weather as possible. See that red slide below, it’s freaking steep, the picture may not do it justice but I went down it no less than 20 times during this park visit and each time my stomach flipped a bit!  It didn’t faze Ashton a bit and he would say, “Mama it’s not steep, it’s not scary, it’s fun, come down” over and over again to get me down it.

ash playground sept 16

So, while we were at the park  I noticed something I hadn’t really picked up on before, there were at least a dozen kids playing with ages ranging from what I’d guess is 2.5-6ish, but I was the only parent running around (sweating profusely) after their kid.  I think I noticed it this time based on two separate situations.

The first was one little girl wanted to join our little party and go up and down the slide and across the monkey bars.  Since both Ashton and this girl were too small to cross them alone, I had to pick them up and help them across.  Maybe I am overprotective, but if another adult (and stranger) was laying a hand on my child, I would make my presence known.  Hell, let’s be honest here, this situation would never happen because Ashton is rarely out of arms distance from me when we are in public, but you know what I mean.  This particular parent couldn’t barely be bothered to look up from her Ipad to acknowledge us or check to make sure her kid was safe with this stranger (me.)  I was shocked, but not as much as I was in this next situation.

While Ashton and I were running up and down the hill, a little boy around 5 years old asked if he could run with us.  Of course I said yes and we went up and down over and over again.  The hill is steep and the little boy fell at the bottom and started to cry.  I immediately knelt to the ground and picked him up to see if he was okay.   I then looked around to see if I could find his parent, no one was looking over.  I asked the boy where his parents were and he pointed over to the parking lot (about 50+ yards away.) His mom was sitting in her car on her phone not paying the least bit attention to her child.

I rarely get on the soapbox about things, but these two incidents happened on the same outing at the park and really just shocked me.  I am not an alarmist by nature and I don’t think all strangers are evil but when it comes to the health, safety and well-being of my son, all bets are off.  Am I overprotective when it comes to him?  Absolutely and I won’t apologize for that.  Do I think these parents are bad people/parents?  No.  But do I think they need to start paying more attention to their young children instead of worrying about what their friends just posted on social media?  Absolutely.  The days of letting your children run free with no supervision are over, especially at such a young age.  These are very young children I am talking about, these are not kids approaching or in their teens.  Am I guilty of having my phone out often with Ashton?  Of course, I love to capture fun moments with him, but I always have my eyes on him.  Accidents, abductions, or worse can happen in seconds.

Okay, I will stop ranting!  Tonight I have to pack because I leave for Spain tomorrow afternoon!!  That means the next time you hear from me, I will have definitely consumed some sangria (hopefully not while writing my blog post!)  Have a great rest of your day!


Question of the day

What are your thoughts about these incidents at the park?  What do you think about the balance between being plugged in all the time and paying attention to what’s going on right in front of you?  Other thoughts/observations?

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