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WHEN PARENTS ARE THE PROBLEM

Maybe it's not that big a deal, but here goes... 

Jack, Ella and I went to the children's park at Washington Park yesterday (my heart is actually beating faster right now thinking about it) for a little morning play in the SUN.  This dad and his 4 kids ranging from about 2yo to 12 yo or so where there.  The dad is running around the play structure, playing hide and go seek with his kids... so, he knocked over one kid in his quest to hide quickly and almost knocked Ella over, I figured - well, he's having fun and made a mistake I just need to be heads up if I he approaches again. 

Then, he gets out a football, not a real leather one, but not a Nerf, either - it was hard plastic.  He proceeds to have his kids "go long" into/on the play structure (packed with mostly kids under 4yo and their parents) and chastises them when they drop the ball.  As one would expect, balls are dropped/overthrown, one kid is hit and fellow parents are looking at each other like what's up with this guy.  One of the kids proceeded to throw the ball back to dad and missed, dropping the ball into the sand box where Ella was playing.  The ball did not hit her, but narrowly missed her.

I had had it at this point, I told the guy he needed to stop throwing the ball into the play structure and that he should go down to the soccer field where he could run drills with his kids all day long.  He was fine with this - didn't act pissy at all - pleasant surprise.  Then, and this kind of broke my heart... Ella wanted to slide, so we go over to the metal slide where there is room for two kids to go down at once.  The dad's youngest (around 2yo) was on one side of the slide and Ella was on the other side, the kid asked if she wanted to race.  She's didn't really get it and just slid down, the kid slid first and at the bottom of the slide, looked at her and said, "I won!"  The dad declared "good job son, good job."  I was just like, what, huh??  A competitive 2 yo??  It broke my heart because, this boy was sweet, I could tell and I just pray that mommy balances out dad, or excels in sports or has the cajones to tell dad he wants to be in the drama club. 

I know I am making alot assumptions/generalizations, and I actually believe that a competitive spirit is useful in life.  I played sports all through HS and part of college - it's motivating, collaborative, but having a 2yo get congratulated for beating another 2yo seems extreme - no 2 yo should be the "loser" in any scenario, life will teach them about winning and losing soon enough.  Anyway, there is not really a message, question or lesson learned here - just a venting and well, I guess a reminder as to how much our kids model our behavior good or bad. 

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I could see that guy ending up on the Bravo show that ran a while back "Sports Kids' Moms and Dads"! I agree....sad. My first reaction though, is that the two year old was probably taking his opportunity to be the big kid--there is probably a ton of competition in that house for all kinds of things that he sees from not only his parents but his siblings. I would think the situation would have been much worse had it been an only/older child?

Isn't it amazing how being a mom brings back all these feelings and experiences from our own childhoods?

If the "good job, you won" weren't preceded by all the reckless behavior chasing and throwing balls, it may not have pushed any buttons. But I can really see why you felt that way given the whole scenario. Yikes.

You know, we stopped going to Washington Park after our last time there. We took andrew to play in the sandbox (the real attraction, in my opinion) and when Andrew decided to play on the structure, his dad and I were having a heck of a time trying to keep tabs on him to ensure he wasn't being run over by older kids or falling off of something. Then there was the fact that we saw 2 kids about 8 or so get beaned in the head with that huge seat swing, not paying attention when they walked by. The way they were crying made my heart melt. Personally, I think it's the worst playground I've ever been to :( Sorry your experience was bad, too :(

I disagree, Washington Park isn't any worse or better in terms of larger children running around when smaller/young kids are present. It is a playground and is open to everyone. It does get a little cold sometimes. Not a lot of sun. For bad places to go in terms of big kids playing inappropriately around little kids, try the mall "playgrounds" ie. Washington Square or Clackamas Town Center. Unfortunately, sometimes there aren't any other choices because of the unrelenting deluge that occurs.

I too wonder how to handle playground interaction. My son is just 19 months old, getting mobile enough to get up the stairs and to the slide on his own, etc., but he doesn't understand how to interact with other (bigger) kids that well (though he's in daycare 20 hours/week) and of course I don't expect 4 and 5 year olds to be considerate of him. But I do expect them not to be deliberately mean, and when I see a parent benignly watching while their child shoves or menaces another kid, I do get mad.

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