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Playground Peeve - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
greyautumnrain
greyautumnrain
Playground Peeve
This weird playground story is still bothering me, so I figured I’d write about it and at least get it out of my system.

There is this other mother who frequents our local playground who I am starting to dislike rather intensely. I remember her from before the playground remodel as one of the more intense helicopter types. She may have been the one who warned me last summer the my Daughter Was About to Go Down the Slide. Excuse me while I fail to panic over my 14 month old going down an 18 inch tall slide into a sand box. I’m not sure if that was her, but it would be in character. I am sure that it was her who told me that she wouldn’t go down Paulina Street any more on account of the pit bulls that someone on the block owns. She seemed to be implying that I shouldn’t go down that street either, even though it’s the most direct route to the playground, and she was being horribly inconvenienced by the “need” for a detour. I won’t let my kids pet pit bulls, but avoiding entire streets just because someone on the street owns some is a bit over the top for me.

Anyway, it wasn’t the comment about the dogs that bothered me. It’s the sense of entitlement that accompanies the helicoptering that bugs me, which brings me to the incident that really bugs me…

This mom was looking after her own daughter and another child. Hmm… I should nickname this woman for blogging purposes so it doesn’t get too cumbersome. Let’s call her Mighty Mousie since she’s kind of timid and mousie, but with this really huge passive aggressive streak. Anyway, the girls (both older than Margaret by a fairly big margin) were playing with this totally cool bubble maker. It was basically a clear plastic toy shaped like a futuristic ray gun with lights that shot out a stream of bubbles. It was such a cool toy that I asked who it belonged to so that I could obtain one of my very own. I discovered that the toy belonged to a third girl. I asked the third girl’s mother, let’s call her Ms. Pink about the bubble gun, and alas, it was purchased from a street vendor at the Memorial day parade and thus not easily cloned. Margaret and I then went about our playground business while Duncan snoozed in the stroller.

It was pretty much impossible not to notice when the two girls with the bubble gun started fighting over it. Mighty Mousie started negotiating turns, which mostly involved her making the older girl give the gun back to her own, somewhat younger daughter at regular intervals. No mention was every made in my hearing of giving the gun’s actual owner a turn. Ms. Pink is pregnant and was quietly supervising her own well-behaved child from the comfort of a bench. I’m not sure if she wanted to retrieve the gun herself, but I could imagine that she just didn’t have the energy to chase down two hyperactive kids. Eventually the gun was dropped by the older child, and suddenly it was no longer putting out a stream of bubbles when you pulled the trigger. It seemed that if a kid pumped the trigger a lot they could get it to blow a single bubble. As Margaret observed when we passed the spectacle, “Broken.” At this point Mighty Mousie put the broken gun on the climbing rock and Ms. Pink heaved herself off her bench and came over to see what was up. Mighty Mousie told her that the toy was broken. No apology was made to Ms. Pink or to her daughter over the breaking of their cool toy. No scolding of the two children happened beyond a wimpy, half-hearted, “That’s what happens when you drop things.” Ms. Pink was left to examine the broken toy and determine that an internal component was broken and that it didn’t look replaceable as I looked on in shocked silence.

Sometime later the mother of the older child came to the park to pick her girl up from Mighty Mousie. Since they were talking directly under the slide that Margaret wanted to go down repeatedly I can be pretty sure that no mention was made to her about the broken toy either, so it doesn’t seem like Mighty Mousie was intending to rely on the older girl’s mother to scold her or make apologies. I found the whole thing highly rude. I suppose it is possible that I may have missed an interaction in there, but I still felt that Ms. Pink would be extremely justified is being upset.

I’m not sure why this is bugging me so much. People are rude everyday, and I am not particularly close to Ms. Pink. What do other people think? I’m just having a hard time wrapping my brain around the psychology of a woman who feels obliged to warn of lurking danger, but ignores destruction of private property.
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Comments
pekmez From: pekmez Date: August 27th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it should bug you, and yet there's really not much to do about it as a bystander other than to expect that other parents in the playground will often act in ways that don't sit well with your parenting style.

If Margaret is talking/understanding to the point of observing that the two girls broke the toy while fighting over it, you could have responded to her "broken" with "Yes, those girls broke another girl's toy while they were fighting over it. They should really apologize." Thus your child gets the lesson, and maybe the other mom overhears. ;-)
enugent From: enugent Date: August 27th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Although this response is really as passive-aggressive as Mighty Mousie is described as being, which doesn't seem to really suit Elizabeth's style.

I agree that it's annoying, and that there's not much to be done about it except avoid MM when you can. I do try to avoid bringing cool, easily-broken toys to the playground, but that depends in part on having some other place that's appropriate to play with them.

I did find a few light-up bubble guns online, if you still want one. It appears that they're not very durable, though.
pekmez From: pekmez Date: August 27th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, reading about it made me snarky. It is kind of passive aggressive, but on the other hand with a slightly older child (K is almost 5) I *would* feel like I needed to say something about how it really isn't ok to break someone else's toy without apologizing. In reality, I would probably stick to telling my own kid it's not ok and not actually try to be passive aggressive. It's much easier to be passive aggressive in what-ifs on LJ. :)
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