The more I go to the park with my two year old, the more I realize that the playground, as seemingly innocent as it might seem, is really just a microcosm for the real world – where battles are fought and lessons are learned.
My son and I arrive every morning at 10 a.m. It’s our daily routine, one that must happen in order for a nap to happen later in the day. I simply must wear him out. He has an endless supply of energy that is unrivaled. They should bottle whatever it is that makes him the way he is – but I digress.
By the time we arrive, there are already quite a few kids and moms, nannies and dads already at play. And, if you look around you can see that there is a definite division amongst them. There are kids who’s mothers are barely watching them – too tied to their blackberries to be bothered. On the flip side there’s moms who are constantly hovering – always there. There are kids who look like they’re still in their pjs and some who look oddly dressed to the nines for a park outing. Those who’s mother’s must be members of the local PTA and don’t let their kids hang with the rest of the riff-raff. My son and I fall somewhere in between, just looking to have a good time and wear ourselves out.
The real question is, who is responsible for these cliques? Is it the moms, or are kids naturally inclined to play were a certain personality type? It’s nature vs. nurture on the most innocent of level.
As for the lessons learned? Here are just a few:
Sharing – My son inadvertently wants whatever toy someone else has and none of the toys that I bring for him. Same goes for the other children, just in the opposite. Try explaining to a toddler that you can’t just take something, you have to ask and please and thank you are a must. But all politeness aside, no toddler wants to give up their prized possession, even if they know they’ll get it back – eventually. Sharing is a definite hurdle on the playground – but practice makes perfect so I’m glad we have a chance at that each day.
Rejection – Not everyone wants to play, and not everyone wants to be your friend. It’s a hard concept to learn for a child, but it’s an important one. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to, so learning to pick yourself up and start again is a great lesson, even on this small of a level.
Compassion – When a kid falls at the park, my son is always so concerned, especially if they are crying. He usually runs right over to see what is the matter. I am always such a proud mama when that happens. Caring for others might seem inherent, but learning when someone is in need, is invaluable – as is a pat on the back and a hug.
Have you ever had an uncomfortable playground encounter?
Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles-based parenting writer. Read more of her posts on her blog Mama to the Rescue or follow her @cmf2009.
*Photo courtesy of Boundless Playgrounds.org
Share this Post