Basically, public playgrounds hold all the potential to be a small slice of heaven or hell. The latter is where I lean but I’m a curmudgeon. I went today because I figured I’d try it and some positivity for a change. I knew it’d be a cluster but I rationalized the worst was just the juggle act you do with young twins, especially when you’re alone.
The unsupervised kids who desperately need supervision.
First, just because a kid from 7-10 years old can run around safely, at least in theory, does not mean they can be left alone or with absent minded teenagers. All the teenagers do is go to a totally different area and play on their phones or ‘watch’ said smaller hoodlums while said teenagers self entertaining with swingset PDAs. (High schoolers apparently like to use the public swingsets as exhibitionist display points for tantric and doggystyle boyfriend/girlfriend amusement — it’s cringeworthy but whatever; it’s small town America, class and privacy was lost years ago.)
I realize Anonymous Playground Mom probably needed a break and her kids don’t want a hovercraft for a parent. But when you’re letting your kids loose in public and you KNOW your kids are potential bullies enough to have screamed at them to be nice to other kids before you did your vanishing act then you probably, actually need to watch them. Even if they don’t want it. And even if you don’t want to. They obviously weren’t going to behave from the start; they just fucking laughed at your ‘be nice’ statement so it wasn’t even a hint. There was no fear. None. But you just let it go, had a cigarette, and POOF! You vanished. That fucking pisses me off because I already have my hands full and now I get your shit dumped on me.
Anonymous Playground Mom’s kids would wind up maliciously targeting and taunting my two year olds, who were just trying to grasp how to do stuff. These strange kids would repeatedly run, as fast as they could, up to one of my two year olds and call them a ‘monster’ before darting away screaming. It was not cute or harmless but actually really upsetting, especially to my one daughter who got the most of it. And, to me, because, what the fuck do you do that’s effective?
Sure, I tried being adult and just pointedly telling them: Look, my kids are small and young. I said what they were doing was inappropriate. I explained it every time that little jerk and his sibling did their thing and upset one of my kids. My girls just wanted to watch the big kids play to get the gist of things. I got nothing but sneered at, a gesture equivilant to ‘Whatcha gonna do?’ attitude. Frankly, what was I going to do? Collar the little brat?
So they ignoring every request I made of them to cut-out the mean spirited shit and I was left in the circus of two littles of mine trying to figure stuff out and enjoy the playground while being scared by two kids that weren’t mine, who weren’t supervised, and who wouldn’t stop being asshats. Suffice it to say that they were the reason we left in a frizz-inducing tantrum state and me ready to go into mommy-rage mode.
Look, I do care about what stranger kids say to my children and how they behave towards my offspring. I don’t know a mother that doesn’t. And while I understand why parents want to give kids freedom, independence and responsibility that’s all kid-specific; like, you can’t do that with a known juvenile delinquent and expect good results.
The last thing I wanted was for that kind of interaction to be made the norm for my kids (or even me). More importantly, though, is the fact that neither I nor anyone else is prepared to handle your random ass kid and their bullshit. That’s why parenting is a thing. I am responsible, as is anyone I put in charge of my children, for protecting my kids from other kids until they have some self-preservation skills which are years away from being developed. And I am responsible that they don’t turn into mean little fuckers or victimized and insecure neurotics when they are left alone in the future.
The way I perceived those kids and their behavior is that it was mean bullshit let loose to fester and apparently it’s being cultivated and nurtured, possibly by the omission of discipline or parenting in general. Maybe the mother doesn’t know how to handle it, and I can sympathize with that a little but it still sucks to get another parent’s problems because they were too lazy to do much more than drop and run. And fuck it if I sound sanctimonious — there are lines between being a sanctimommy or just asking people to actually fucking parent.
Hell, even if the mom had the wherewithal to have introduced herself to me and said, “Hey, fellow mama! My kids were going to play here, if you have any problems with them I’ll be [insert location here] or go over to the teenagers I brought who are trying to hump each other on the swingset and have them come get me!” That would have given me some leverage. Instead I got two unknown brats using my children as targets for their sociopathic entertainment while we’re all vulnerable.
Thankfully my daughters don’t understand what those kids were doing, even if Aurora did get spooked by the little boy. She got the brunt of it because she was actually interested in watching the older kids so she’d walk to get a view of the playground set they were on, trying to take it all in, and then get scared shitless by a big kid running at her. I returned to scoop her up as fast as I could each time but juggling twins is its own chaos.
Most singleton families don’t always comprehend the tribulations you have as a twin mom. I have two little kids the same age who run in opposite directions and have a small vocabulary and zero self control. Age dynamics can be incredibly helpful and most people don’t even perceive that as a parenting luxury. In addition I don’t have the parenting experience compared to a mom who has three kids and never will get to have that. I could put one kid on one thing, then the other kid on a nearby pre-school level play thing — then I look back and there’s the little dirtbag in my other kid’s face.
I tried to respect Anonymous Mom’s children despite the fact they were going to take a mile for the inch they were given.
I honestly hope those kids get a taste of some kind of help/guidance/proactive monitoring in the future from someone with an iota of awareness. I don’t hope that for the anonymous mom’s sake, I hope it for the kids themselves, and for kids they may actually victimize (or may get pummeled by).
For a mom of twins this is all was hard enough to choreograph to begin with, so by the end of it I was just fucking upset. The fun for me was ruined, in the end, and despite having fantastic fun on the swing. I knew I’d invest in our own private playground-esque equipment verses going back.
Though if I ever do go back to the fucking playground, which, again, is now very unlikely, and see this kind of behavior repeated I won’t stand on the ceremony before I turn into my own mother. My mom, the social worker’s, favorite line was always, “Where is your mother?!” in a psychotic tone. Or, when the people were hard of hearing, like after particularly bad incident when a kid ran his exposed bike handle down the length of my mom’s beautiful Suburban truck she screamed, “Where is your FUCKING mother?!” (It was a screaming session worth the entirely new paint job that had to be redone.)
Now at least I understand why my mom was, at least for me, the original ‘scary mommy’ and whenever we had play-dates unsupervised but within earshot of my mom, we towed the fucking line, man, or you could hear her scream across the back 40 acres like a banshee coming for you soul. Because she was definitely that insane.
I’m not far behind after today.