Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Other Parents Doing It Right: After School Playground Edition

Dear Mom I Don't Know Who Made Her Kids Leave The Playground After Her Kid Wouldn't Stop Climbing Up The Slide:

Thank you.

Seriously, thank you. Stopping at the school playground after school is a treat for both my kids. My son especially loves all the slides. And it is a joy to see him climbing up the stairs, picking a slide, sliding down, and then racing around to the stairs to do it all over again, laughing and giggling in delight. 

Every day, however, I find myself shocked and appalled by the behavior of the other kids, climbing up the slides and all over the equipment as if it was one big jungle gym. There are climbing elements to the equipment, but these kids are climbing all over the banisters meant to keep them from falling off the platforms, and climbing on top of the cones over the slides. I can't imagine that this behavior is condoned during recess by teachers or playground monitors, so I don't know why they think it's okay after school ends. I suppose it's because their parents are there but not admonishing them for these shenanigans.

I have to wonder about these other parents. Don't they worry about falls? Sure, the playground area is mulched, and it seems a fairly forgiving surface, but it only has so much give. I can attest to the fact that treating broken bones is not cheap. And what if they knocked someone else's kid to the ground? They could be held liable for that kids medical costs. Or worse yet, the school would be held liable, which would pretty much end after school privileges to keep the school free from litigation.

And what if they damaged the equipment? We came from the Cleveland school district, where they can hardly afford to keep up the school buildings, never mind the playgrounds. The one school my kids attended, the ground cover hadn't been replaced in years, so there were gaps where the hard surface was exposed. Elements had been broken off or removed from posts, and at some point in the past someone had set a fire and melted one of the plastic wall sections, which was left attached to the frame. The playground here is very nice- new mulch was put down before school started, and the equipment looks well-kept. But it won't stay that way if kids keep mistaking slides for climbing equipment. And if the school can't afford to fix any damage, the kids may lose not just after school privileges, they may not have a playground during the day as well.

Worse, to me, is that the other kids mar this fun time for my son. Autism makes it difficult for him to adjust to unexpected situations, such as other kids coming up the slide instead of going down. It confuses him because in his mind you go up the stairs, then down the slide- That Is How The World Works. This confusing behavior, along with the other kids' rowdiness, overwhelms my son fairly quickly. Very often we are leaving only a few minutes after my daughter has come out because he cannot handle this loud, confusing, overwhelming behavior and wants to go home. I know playgrounds are a naturally boisterous environment, but I think he could acclimate better if there wasn't a kid in his face every time he tried to go down the slide.

So thank you, for trying to make the playground a safer and more welcoming environment for all the kids. Thank you for trying to instill some manners in your kids. Thank for trying to teach awareness of other people and other people's things to your kid. It may not seem like much, but it is appreciated and it will pay off someday.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How To Know You Are a Parenting Success: Popeye Edition

Daughter: I'm hungry...Do we have any spinach?

Me: Uh...yeah.

Daughter: Can I have some?

Me: *Long sideways look* Um...oookay...

Daughter: What? You know I like spinach!

Me: ...Give some to your brother too.