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.