My mom and I took the girls to the park this past Saturday. The weather was nice enough to warrant me dragging out the sun screen for O’s shoulders and nose. Of course she insisted on wearing shorts and a tank top, I mean, we were going to the part and it was warm, it MUST be summer, right?
There were only two other families there when we arrived. Both families left soon after we got there so the girls had the park to themselves for a bit before another family arrived.
This family had four kids with them. There was a girl of probably nine years old and several kids who were younger. They were accompanied by a woman I assumed was their mother.
The new family had been there for maybe fifteen minutes when the mom, who’d settled onto the built-in benches and told the nine year old to keep an eye on her siblings, realized that the youngest of her charges had actually managed to scale the fence of the park and was outside, near the road. (!)
Aside: This park is kind of awesome in that there is only one way to enter, a little ramp with fencing on either side. The entire play area is surrounded by a wooden fence that doesn’t have any gaps through which a wily toddler can escape. That kid would have had to either go OVER the fence or past his mom to get out.
The woman shouted at the nine year old girl to go get the boy who’d escaped.
The girl called back that the mom was closer to the entrance.
The mom retorted, “But you’re faster!”
The girl sprinted out of the playground after her brother and brought him back safely.
Now, we all know the kind of parent I am, right? I hover so closely that it’s amazing my kids can breathe on their own rather than me taking breaths for them, right?
In fact, that day, Alyssa was complaining about being tired of following Olivia up and down the climbing structures and wanted to sit with her Gram on the benches so I was climbing up with Olivia and going down the slide for her to show her that it wasn’t actually scary to go down the slides. After following me down one time, she was all about the ‘bumpy’ slide.
So yes, I was a little judgy over this mom’s apparent neglect. I mean, the oldest kid was NINE. Her mom should have at least been watching the smallest of the kids while the oldest daughter played with the two slightly younger kids. But instead, the nine year old was being expected to watch all three of her younger siblings while her mom lounged on the bench, smoking.
Yes, I know, just call me Judy. But come on!! Get off your butt, put out your cigarette and watch your own kids.
I don’t expect everyone to parent the way I do. Heck, I probably need a few classes in parenting (Alyssa thinks so, but that’s probably a good subject for another post) about letting go and stepping back. But there is a difference between letting your kids play while watching safely from a distance and sitting on your ass while expecting your nine year old to parent her younger siblings.
I can’t imagine that that park adventure was fun for the nine year old as she tried to keep up with three kids going in three different directions. Every so often, the mom would call out to her that one of the littler kids was running off.
Sigh. If only ever parent had my awesome ability to hover. Right?
Okay, just kidding, but still…choosing not to hover doesn’t mean you abdicate your parenting responsibilities altogether.
On a lighter note, I had a dream over the weekend that I had a surprise baby. It was another girl and for some reason Tom wasn't there and the nurse was pressuring me to give her a name so we could fill out the birth certificate. I named her Ivy Hyacinth. Ivy...Hyacinth. My dream brain is stupid.