Friday, July 10, 2015

I'm That Mom You Love To Hate: Playground Edition

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Yesterday my kids were whiny hot messes. After a day of errands and meltdowns and no naps, I knew today was going to require change. I thought of all our favorite museums that have both indoor and outdoor space, but I just didn't have the chutzpah to pack up The Stuff and go to a place to walk around. I tossed the kids in the car and decided we'd go to the playground in town. 

I set the kids free, smiled at some other moms, and found a dry spot. 

I'm that mom the Sanctimommies love to hate. 

Check out my 4.5 year-old hanging off this cliff. 

Can you spot my 2-year-old?

I can take better photos than these, but want everyone to see that I was all the way the heck over on the one dry bench spot like: 


It has nothing to do with it being 9am and my coffee being done and my second coffee not being made because I had to get the kids out of the house before they lost their minds, abandoning any hope of stuff like more coffee. I'm on that bench because I am. We don't live in one of those places you read about, where every type of mom is judging the other one, but if we were, I'd still act the same. And so should you. Not act like me, but do whatever you want. 

These are your kids. It is your life. Do what makes you and them happy. 

If you are at a playground and find yourself being Judge Judy, here are some things to think about:

Don't like the Hover Mom? Maybe she is protective of her kids. Or her only kid. Or her friend's kid. Or maybe her kid is a biter and she's tired of having to apologize to other moms when their kid gets bit. Maybe they have a special need that requires closer supervision. Maybe they have an inner ear issue and exceptionally bad balance. Go introduce yourself and tell her your kid's name, age, and your favorite candy bar. 

Have an issue with Bench Mom? Maybe she wants her kids to do some free thinking and exploring and the second she gets close their helplessness kicks into high gear and they stop problem solving. Maybe her kids are the kind that if she walks within 10 feet of them while they are playing they run and scream, thus interrupting their play and frustrating Mom. Maybe her toddler played the roll of Surprise Limp Noodle on the way out of the house and threw her back out and her chiropractor is closed on Fridays. (Sorry, was that too personal? I love my kids.) Maybe she needs 5 minutes to call a friend or text her partner the grocery list or check Facebook because it is the only adult interaction she'll have today until you go up and introduce yourself, point out your kids from a distance that makes you comfortable (unless you are a hoverer, but you can just yell, because it is a playground), and tell her about the last book (or anything) you read more than 3 sentences of. 

Is that Mom Group a little too chummy for your liking, while their kids run amuck? Maybe they haven't seen each other in a long time. Maybe they spend every day of every week together and still have awesome things to talk about every day. Maybe they are collectively watching each other's children out of the corner of each mom eye and aren't afraid to Village Parent when something goes down or a kid teeters on the edge of some cliff. You should definitely go ask if they are part of a larger group, and ask what their drive-thru coffee of choice is. 

The bottom line is that we are all in the same boat here. Judging just puts up a wall and often times the perception of being judged is all in our heads. If someone parents differently than you and helps (or "helps") your kid out, be it from jumping off the monkey bars or running into traffic, smile and thank them. Chances are they were genuinely concerned and aren't actually a Sanctimom, but someone happy to keep the closest child to them from injury. Maybe ask if they are from town. Because when we actually talk to each other and hear about other walks of life, we stop judging and we make friends. When we make friends with people that hang out in the same places with kids of similar ages, we build our Village. And little more is as important to parents as a supportive community of other parents to grow and learn with that are a car ride away. 

Incase anyone was worried, Miss V and Julia the Child both made it to the top of their towers without interference or injury. Neither had previously attempted this feat, both were extremely proud. 

Just don't tell her I was that close. She'll run away, screaming.

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