I was in Pittville Park on a busy Saturday while Ed was playing on the wooden ship when a mother came storming over with her toddler from the ‘little ones’ area of the park. ‘I’m gonna kick off!’ she was shouting, gesturing back over her shoulder… I looked across and could see another mother giving her evils.
It was a classic case of Playground Politics or perhaps near fisticuffs! The shouting mother wasn’t happy that the giving evils mother hadn’t intervened and had, ‘let her three bigger kids play’ in the toddler area where they had terrorised the young ones and not been told off. I didn’t get involved. I had been in this situation before and it landed me in hot water.
Once, in a pub garden with a climbing frame/slide thing, I politely asked a little bruiser, who was deliberately blocking the slide by walking up it while Ed was trying to come down, to ‘go down and let the other children slide.’ His father, a scrawny looking battery chicken, strutted over saying, ‘If anyone’s gonna tell my child what to do, it’s me!’
‘Ok, can you do that then because he’s blocking the slide.’ I replied.
His wife/girlfriend/mother of the bruiser then chipped in from the pub table beyond, ‘We’re his parents so we’ll tell him what to do!’
‘You weren’t though, were you!’ I looked over at my husband and friends on another pub table as the situation quickly escalated. Him and our other friend are less battery chicken and more free-range cockerel and grizzly bear (lol – we could have had them!) but I walked away. It was, in my opinion, a ridiculous reaction.
What’s happening with the world if other parents are: 1) ignoring the bad behaviour of their own child in public and 2) not accepting any shared discipline. I’ve been with my mother in parks and seen other grandparents and they think nothing of talking to other children or telling them to wait their turn if need be. I would accept my child being disciplined by another parent if he had pushed in or was purposefully obstructing someone. But many parents don’t.
I’m even seeing it as a teacher with older children. Funnily enough (not) it’s the parents who don’t accept their children’s misbehaviour and have all the excuses whose children misbehave. They can’t accept any responsibility for their actions as their parents haven’t instilled a sense of action/consequence.
Back to playground politics. I think we’ve become less community minded, more paranoid about others and in our strive for wanting the best for our children, given them too many rights. In this dog eat dog world, I’m sure some parents actually enjoy watching their children bash others out of the way in the fight for dominance.
As much as I strive to be principled and discipline my own child. My advice to others is to perhaps avoid any confrontation with other children or parents in playgrounds as you might end up in a fight. But then again, if you feel strongly about something then go for it – I guess the rest of the park will be entertained!