As a work at home parent, we frequent a lot of indoor playgrounds. We stop by the local McDonalds Play Place at least twice a week while the kids run around jacked up on the fact it’s pretty much an all-you-can-eat-french-fry extravaganza. It’s there where I’m answering emails, amidst the chaos, among constant reminders to “be kind” to others playing and diffusing arguments about who drank the last sip of the coveted red fruitopia.
On these all-you-can-eat-fry extravaganzas, there’s no shortage of kids – and sometimes, some of those kids, are running their own free for all-you-can-eat-fry-extravaganza without their parents hanging out nearby, making sure that their preschoolers aren’t running around terrorizing the younger children, pulling their hair, shuvving and blocking them from entering the play structure.
Hey. Who owns this kid?
The first time it happens, I’ve got on the ‘fake nice mom-voice’, you know the one. It’s the voice you use when the child is pushing yours along, forcing them into a run that you know is going to end up with your kid on their face, on the floor. It’s the “Gentle hands! Use gentle hands!” prompt in that “nice mom voice”.
The second time, I’m going to be a little more firm. The ‘fake nice mom-voice’ has been ditched and the reminder is going to be a little firmer, and resonate the same thing that I’m repeating to my own kid, “be kind”, “be kind!”.
The third time though? The third time I look around the Playplace and if there’s nary a parent to be seen to manage the kid that’s made mine cry twice already? It’s shoes off, and me entering into the play structure designed for people thirty years my junior, fingers a waving that we do not pull hair, we do not push and we need to be kind, I’m lecturing at this point, at their level, firm, and past the point of reminding them to simply “be kind”.
The fourth time? That’s the time when I’m scanning the area outside the play place to find the people who might resemble this little terror – I’m going to come find you, and politely ask that you give the much-needed reminder yourself. You know, unless another parent has so kindly tracked you down themselves.
(thank you other parent)
Indoor playgrounds are a free-for-all, but they’re a free-for-all that need to be managed, by you. by me. by us. If you’re not there to manage it – You can bet that I’m going to discipline your kid when it’s required.
Even if does result in you getting a little snippy, staring me down as you huff and puff acting like you’ve been abolished from the McDonalds play place.
And next time it’s my kids leading the terror? I hope that you would do the same.