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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm Not Your Friend

I suppose you could say that I am a product of my environment. I come from a long line of women who do not spend their free time outside. My people prefer indoor activities, like cooking, reading, and socializing with a glass of wine in our hand. Sadly, the fondness I have for life inside is not shared with my children.



Giancarlo and Lucia are quite the opposite; their love of being outside means that we spend a lot of time at local parks. Over the course of the last two years since I became a SAHM, I have transformed into a CSI-like investigator at our local park system. I spend my days mentally profiling the different personality types that I come across.

As a public service to the blogosphere, I share the knowledge that I have gained from the playground with you today. The park isn’t quite the toddler utopia that I initially envisioned. Kids steal toys, hog the swings, and think nothing of pushing each other aside on their way through the crawl tunnels. Everyone should be prepared.

Here is a sampling of those who will likely cross your path at the playground:


THE HUNGRY LURKER: This child is not related to you, but somehow magically appears by your side when the snacks come out. Do not look this child directly in the eye. He or she may take this as an invitation to insert their grimy hands into your snack pack. Instead, I like to use the line, “Sharing is caring, but just not today. Why don’t you run along and play on the swings?”



THE THIEF:
There are different degrees to the Thief. He or she may be like my kids, where they mistaken a toy as something that is community park property. This situation is easily corrected. However, there is a more serious offender occasionally on the loose. The true thief grabs toys away from your own or off of your stroller. If this situation should arise, feel free to repeat my mantra, “We’re not friends. If the parent won’t discipline this child, I must.”



THE EQUIPMENT HOG:
There is no mistaking the Equipment Hog. He or she is continually trying to crawl backwards up the slide or swinging on the swings for 30 minute intervals while others are waiting. (These children grow up to be adults who exhibit similar behavior patterns at the gym.)



THE BIG KID: This is most commonly the rambunctious 6-year-old monopolizing the toddler slide and pushing ahead of smaller children (including yours). For some reason, the Big Kid steers clear of equipment designed for his own age group. The situation is further complication by the nearby parent, who is engrossed in a conversation on their cell phone or a text message regarding a critical issue, such as what Kris Allen is going to do now that he has won American Idol.



THE EXHIBITIONIST:
Honestly, I blame the parents for the exhibitionist. This unfortunate child has confused park time with naked time. He or she can be seen peeing in the bushes or streaking across the playground because “it is hot.” I am unsure whether this youngster lives in a home without indoor plumbing, but, similar to the hungry lurker, do not engage and do not make eye contact.



It’s a jungle out there, but armed with the proper information and gear, there is nothing for you to fear. Wear protective eyewear and go forward with confidence. Not only do you need to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but you also need a way to openly stare at others incognito. Never a good thing to be caught rolling your eyes at the things other parents may be saying.


Take my word for it.



-Francesca

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72 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I am definitely taking note of these kids for the future.

Jolene said...

LOL This was so funny, and true! What about the 'potty-mouth kid' who teaches your kids bad words and the 'bratty-kid-who-doesn't-seem-to-belong-to-anyone kid?'

Great post!

MELISSA said...

Hilarious! I SO know exactly what you are talking about as a playground-frequenter myself :). Gonna have to try the sunglasses tip hehe.

Kristin said...

It certainly is a jungle out there. And that just covers the kids. What about the parents? Ahhhhhhhh. Great post!

the ungourmet said...

You are funny! I also like being inside or at least in my own yard. I am a bit phobic I guess.

Lucky for me my kids would rather be glued to a video game inside all day! My daughter is addicted to this game called Endless Ocean. The music on this game about drives me over the edge!

Miranda said...

Oh, thank God someone other than me wants to blog about this. It's driving me nuts!! I haven't allowed myself to blog about it because I am afraid it would offend my friends.
It kills me when some one else's child goes through my diaper bad, helps themselves to the snacks and sippycups. Then when my children are hungry and thirsty guess what, outta luck!! OH IT I THINK THIS OFFENSE IS THE WORST!!!

B said...

I am a HUGE eyeroller, so I think I need to snag me some different sunglasses to go incognito in that department.

Thankfully my kids love being outside as much as I do, but I steer clear of the parks when there are too many people there. Instead I garden while they run amuck (but in their own yard), or we go for bike rides or long walks. They are even so good as to tag along when I go for runs. I love being outside, but I'm still antisocial. Parks are for early morning ventures when most mommies and kiddies are still asleep. At those hours the sweet but "possible problems" are non existent.

Bethany said...

Great advice! I love the lurker. I have had to deal with a few of those! Have a super day!

Barbaloot said...

Ah yes---the protective sunwear so you can stare at others without them realizing. I use it on people my own age at this point in time:)

Mainly a midwife said...

That was a great post!!! So funny!

Cammie said...

ahhh, out of all of these I despise "the big kid" the most. they reallllllly get on my nerves

susannah said...

oh my goodness francesca- i am SO with you on the stay inside vibe. alas, monrovia LOVES the outdoors. sucko.

Michelle Sybert said...

Is it okay to admit that my child might just be the "hungry lurker" (minus the grimy hands) at the park LOL! I guess admitting it is the first step right?

mrs.notouching said...

My daughter is still too little for us to go to the playground, but you just described my last workplace. And I thought becoming a SAHM will save me from them...

TrueLoveIsaMama said...

SO funny, I also spend an inordinate amount of time at the parks, and it does make for some interesting observations, your profiling has been perfected!

Julie said...

Too funny! I try to avoid busy parks...

Kim said...

Hee! I recently wrote about my irritation with "The Big Kid" at the playground, so I know whereof you speak!

Lolli said...

So, so true!
But, can I just say that when I saw the title of this post, I felt sad for a moment.

My kids love to be outside. I am washing muddy shoes today because they could not resist playing in the rain yesterday. They also love to have lemonade stands and other horrid things like that. LOL!

And, for the record, I have a certain 8 year old boy living in my house who you described perfectly as the hungry lurker. Oh the shame! We've been at friends houses before when he has started going through their cupboards and fruit baskets. Who raised this kid?

Randi Troxell said...

i like this post... and i'll remember this for when i have kids!

Kameron said...

I guess we don't spend enough time at parks for me to know about these yet. Mostly I am on high alret that my son is not the perpetrator of any of these things!

Deb said...

You and I must have been separated at birth. We have so much in common.

The bullying 6-year-old who has to stomp all of the toddlers is the bee in my personal bonnet. I'm sorry to say I've made it my mission in life to let most of these kids know that there are bigger and meaner folks out there...

Patrice said...

So funny!!! I am definitely taking note of this for the future. I do remember some of these from my playground days, they weren't that long ago!
I do have to point out because I am a hardcore Kris Allen fan that Adam Lambert did not win American Idol... haha just sayin ;)

Great post!

Ali said...

I always want to smack the big kid. Even worse - if his/her parent(s) are nearby, I really want to smack them for allowing their child to be such an idiot.

Oh, and check out Kaboom.org - it's a great site for mapping and ranking parks in your area.

Hillbilly Duhn said...

LOL! This was great! I do have to go with Jolene on this one about the "potty-mouthed kid" you forgot that one.

You see, I think I have the potty mouthed kid. And oh my goodness, it's embarrassing!! But I take full responsiblity that the words he is using and causing such mayhem may be MY fault so therefore i apologize with my head hung low...

BlogBaby said...

Oh snap! Take that little heathen children. Franny's got the 411 on you!

Now to be fair, there are some children...cough cough..BigBoy, who may APPEAR to be lurkers or equipment hogs but are really just umm...special.

Be kind to my special boy will you, 'cuz I'm not above laying the smack down on you or your kid, in the kindest way possible. Of course.

BlogBaby's BabyMama

Erin said...

You've been to the park by my house, haven't you?

More than once we have been at the park for less than 10 minutes, only to turn around and go home because of some offense that occurred and I couldn't take it anymore.

Kailey said...

I have definitely seen the grown-up equipment hogs at the gym.

Abra said...

I teach my kids to go down the slide anyways even if the kid won't get off all is fair in love and war and playground rights. I don't get the grounders game at all.

cat said...

Great post girl! Really had a good laugh. And what's up with those glasses?

Jillene said...

hehe!! This is SO true!! I have had an experience with each kind of kid. And I am NOT one to hold my tongue!!

Ann's Rants said...

I used to feel so protective of my innocent little boys on the play lot. As the grow, they personify each of these aggressors at different phases.

I find wine in a nalgene bottle helpful in these situations...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Helene said...

This was hysterical and SO true!! Esp the hungry lurker! I bust out the snacks and next thing I know I got like 10 kids dripping with snot and boogers trying to dig their dirty hands into my kids' snacks!! I usually say "Why don't you ask your mom first if it's okay?" and then the mom is usually so embarrassed that she makes sure that both she and the child avoid me the rest of the time they're at the park. Yeah, no one wants to be the mom who forgot to bring snacks/juice to the park...that's one of the cardinal rules. You must have a snack at the park.

That's a pretty nice park you posted a pic of. Next time we're in SF I may have to take the kids there (with snacks in hand of course).

Glad you figured out the IE/Firefox deal. I was having the same problem with my blog and some others but now using Firefox, it seems okay.

peewee said...

ummm...adam lambert didn't win.

AND WHAT?? I show up pretty quick for snacks too! You have any?

Grand Pooba said...

Ok, I think my neice may qualify as an exhibitionist. Yesterday she wouldn't keep her clothes on! She's two and laughs bein nakey!

I'll make sure I scold my sister in law!

Bullfrogs & Butterflies Baby said...

You sooo hit the nail on the head, F!

Peaches said...

LMAO!! Ok. So my youngest child is...an obnoxious (hungry) lurker!" (Even if he's just eaten and I know he can't be hungry.)

I have no control over it. My apologies.

Counselormama said...

LOL The hungry lurker! Yes! There is one at every park! You forgot the random chatterbox. These are kids who always come up to me and start telling me some random story about their life as if we know each other! Is that just me? It's cute, but..

Paging Doctor Mommy said...

Our park is filled with all of these kids! It drives me crazy!

The Blonde Duck said...

This was the most brilliant thing I've ever read.

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

You're hilarious! I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only mom who gets annoyed by other people's kids! So....when is the "mommy profiling" coming?!

♫ Spasm ♫ said...

that is FUNNY!!!!!!!

i THOUGHT i'd be an outside mom but then one of my kids has a sun and heat allergy... imagine that!

s now I am very much an inside mom LOL

He And Me + 3 said...

OMGosh, that is hysterical. I totally have like 17 hungry lurkers in my neighborhood and my kids think it is our duty to feed them all. ugh. Let's not forget I have 3 of my own and only 10 juice boxes come in a pack. LOL

Jessica said...

My least favorite is the throw dirt/wood chips. I hate the b word (brat) but I get pretty close then... I say, "go to your momma and tell her you were naughty!!"

FrankandMary said...

You know all these things, these mysterious intracacies(to me, a nonmommy), so well. I often wear sunglasses when I just know I will be eye rolling a lot. This is a bunch of accurate & authoritative information that I'd never have figured out(by a long shot)on my own, but seems so obvious now that you have done all the work. ~Mary

Any you said I was funny; takes one to know one.

Laura said...

Francesca, I laughed out loud at this post and I am sure there are many mother's who are nodding their heads as they are reading your words. I also love your new layout. Great job ladies! Hope you had a good weekend =)

angie said...

This just very well could be the most comprehensive and TRUE list of park kids around. :) Totally enjoyed it.

ck said...

Let's not forget other park accessories...

THE CHATTY NANNY: As in, chatting on her cellphone or to her fellow nannies. She's not especially interested in her ward, who is either

THE TORMENTER: Skidding in and out of the sandbox, running toddlers over with his training wheels or leaping off of the slide or

THE LONELY CHILD: Who is a little older than your kid and wants you to push them on the swings or build with them in the sandbox. Which you do because you feel bad for the child, but you resent the hell out of the Chatty Nanny who smiles at you from the park bench, where you'd be sitting with your toddler if SHE was doing her job.

Jo said...

One of my favorites, The Orphan. The one that doesn't seem to have a parent who actually cares, so they are talking to you, asking you to push them on the swing, and "hey lady, watch this!" So NOT my favorite kid, cause I feel like a heel to tell them to jet off somewhere else.

KC Mom said...

Great post! So true.
I'm a product of my environment too. :)

Kelly Deneen said...

Thanks for your sweet comments about Delia. :) You are too kind to us.

And your post had me LOL!! I totally encountered a couple of equipement hogs this last weekend -- so challenging when Delia is such a cautious kiddo. ha!

Jen said...

I am totally with you on this. My kids LOVE to be outside. Me, just let me stay in, Please!

Technodoll said...

I don't have kids but drink in your posts every time, Francesca! They are so REAL! :-)

Becky said...

Uh oh. I have to admit, I've got an exhibitionist on my hands. The park we frequent has disgusting bathrooms, so I take my son to some nearby bushes to do his business (as long as it's just #1). I try to shield the nakedness, but I know people get mooned occasionally. My bad.

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

this was HILARIOUS - I totally DO this!!!!!!

Omah's Helping Hands said...

Francesca, how I've missed coming here and reading your posts. You are amazing with your witt and charming ways. Ah yes, the playground, what can be done? Wait until you become a grandma. Hee hee. Then you become the general of the team on look out. Ha ha ha. Loved this post, love you and to show it, I have an award awaiting you three. Please come by and pick it up.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Ack! Sometimes my son is The Thief. But I always ask the parent if it's OK for him to play with whatever toy he has found. Only a couple times has anyone said no.

[Must ... remember ... to bring ... toys!]

Also, you know what gets me is the Big Kid who is also the Equipment Hog.

{Katie Lane} said...

Wonderful advise, thanks for the heads up!

Juls said...

Ha ha That's awesome! So very true..

Kathy B! said...

You've really nailed it Francesca! You should post wanted posters at all your local parks so there is no confusion when the little perps show their faces :)

I'll be in touch in regards to my trip soon! Can't wait to meet you!

Mrsbear said...

I love this. It's so accurate. I've also frequently encountered "The Toucher". Usually in the 5 to 6 year range that feel a need to hover near your toddler, grabbing their hands or trying to carry them up a the stairs on the play set in an effort to "help" the younger child, usually knocking your child over or dropping them hard on their knees. "Hands to your self, kid." I still haven't overruled getting one of those protective bubbles. The sunglasses are a must!

Rachel said...

Such a great post! I too am an inside person.

rychelle said...

the "big kids" in the photos look slightly over the age of 6. must be the growth hormones in the milk. ;)

Tranquility said...

Hmm... I too have witnessed each of these characters at our local parks. Thank you for your words of wisdon in dealing with these difficult situations! ;)

Jen said...

Alright, that was fabulous. Your next post needs to be about the categories of adults who frequent the parks with their rugrats in tow. Divorcees on the make, indifferent nannies, helicopter moms - just extrapolating from personal experience.
Many thanks on the very sweet comment on my last post. You made my day! Actually just got up a new one.

Gibby said...

This is hysterical! And so true! Those hungry lurkers drive me nuts. Go get your own food.

Wifey said...

How in the world do you come up with this stuff? This is classic. I'm such a starer and eye-roller, I need to get some of those funky fresh glasses.

Winks & Smiles,
Wifey

joanofalltrades said...

Hilarious! I'm always amazed at the park stories that my friend tells me. Do people really let their kids do these obnoxious things! My favorites have to be The Hungry Stalker and The Exhibitionist :)

Willow Tree said...

From one indoor girl to another - high five, you've called the playground types spot on!

Blessings, C~

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

Bahahaha! I've seen these children.

I'd also add: The Dare Devil. The child that tries to slide on top of the giant tunnel slide instead of through it, or who climbs to the top of the playground roof, encouraging others to do the same and taunting those who can't.

This is fun!

heidi said...

I think I would like to print this out and put it in a mommy handbook.

Heather said...

This post just reminded me of why I don't want to go to playgrounds. Ugh.

thatgirlblogs said...

you forgot the helicopter moms who run after their kids with padding and a net instead of letting them skin a knee or two.

also? mommy will need her "special" juice box to bring along. and the red cups.