Playground Politics

In Kids by Christina Montoya Fiedler2 Comments

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.

Los Angeles area playground

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.

Moms, what do you think about playground politics – do you think they exist? 

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

Meet the Author | Christina Montoya Fiedler

Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles native - born and raised. Before becoming a mom, and writing for various parenting sites so she could be home full time with her son, she was a publicist representing environmentally progressive architects and contractors - one of whom just finished building a home completely out of parts from a Boeing 747. Now that's cool!

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  1. Fun! The park sounds like a wonderful time for your child (and you) both for learning and health (sleeping). Odd that playgrounds though seem simple and innocent are a place for such lessons. But they certainly are lessons for life. When kids reach school age, they find the same issues at recess and later out of school, we see our own versions of such issues (we’re just better prepared for them!)

    Thank you for sharing the lessons your son is learning through play!

  2. I have just moved with my family to Shirlington and definitely see the clique thing going on. So silly and immature! I have a 2 year old girl and a 7 year old who will be out for summer in a few months. As I see it, high school is so over. I am a Christian and very conservative, but I am friendly with everyone and find it sad that others can’t be the same way.

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