Monday, October 18, 2010

Slacker mom at the playground

I am not one of those parents who climbs the toddler play structure, holding my baby's hands. I don't lift her to the monkey bars to "help" her across. I usually sit and watch while she plays. I probably look like the lazy parent to many others, or even the neglectful parent. (At a playground this weekend, as I sat in the middle watching my very-independent toddler explore all the tunnels and stairs and bridges and make friends and stir puddles, I kept hearing surprised other parents saying "oh! there's a baby in here!") But it's always been my philosophy to support children as they stretch themselves toward that next goal, rather than to do it for them. I usually help with words--and not many. Today there was a perfect example from our time at a nearby play structure.

"Mama, help me!" (This gap is too big for my leg to cross!)

"Hmm. What if you held onto this log?"
(No--see? I still can't do it.)

"Huh. I wonder how you could get across?"
(Well, I guess maybe I could walk on this chain like a tightrope.)

(Yes! That worked!)

Those appalled parents at the playground this weekend, when they eventually spotted me sitting on a bench, kept commenting on what a great climber Lucy is, and how confident and independent. Yup, that's 'cause her lazy old mom won't help her a bit!


gardenmama said...

hehehe *loved* this post!! : )

Julie said...

Love this so much! This needs to be a public service announcement!!!!!!!!

Calamity Jane said...

I am so with you on that. I am always just amazed at how much people hover over their kids at public play areas.
Are you a fan of the RIE ideas? Seems like it. If not, check it out.
When i first started mothering i was freaked out by how much people micromanage their kids. Was i just being naive? Did you have to do that, and I'd find out in good time? Fortunately, I found out that i was not being naive. No, you don't, and shouldn't!
Sadly, not to share evil mother at the playground stories, but i was at a playground recently and there was a mom literally shouting at her three year old to "GO DOWN THE SLIDE! JUST GO DOWN THE SLIDE!!!" I hope she was just having a bad day... But it's amazing how often (like, constantly) people tell kids how to PLAY. Like we know better than them. Ha!
Hooray for laziness!

Stephanie said...

Almost every time we go, I have to say in a don't worry tone, "They've both been climbing since before they could walk."

On the other side - I do help, like yesterday, I was (the only parent) helping pile leaves at the park.
Maddie went in head first, and an appalled father said when his babe (three?) went to do it, "Don't be a copycat! Don't do that! There could be dog poo in there!"
"I've been watching the piles," I said, and then I was compelled to remind him, "Good thing we know where the soap and water are kept!"

I don't know if he took to it, but I tried. :)

Lise said...

I have to get better at those quick responses to other parents! Lucy, too, climbed before she could walk.

I should amend that I do help with shared goals such as piling leaves. What I don't do is "help" a child do things they aren't developmentally ready to tackle on their own (or with encouragement or a bit of advice or scaffolding of what they're already figuring out...): i.e. I don't do it for them. I don't like kids to be dependent on me for entertainment.

About time I was making and playing in a huge leaf pile with toddlers and a student teacher. Her college professor was observing, and afterward, asked the student teacher to describe the "leaf activity" to the rest of her class. Are we that far removed from real play that we have to tell future early childhood teachers that you can jump in a leaf pile?

Earth Mama said...

I know exactlly what you mean. I let them go too. One time we were somewhere where there was a cactus by the front door. My 20 month old was near it and one mom was like oh no no. MAm, he's going to touch the cactus...and Im thinking, ok, then he will earn that it is sharp and prob never touch it again. I think it is good to lay back and let them find their safety boundaries.