Playground Etiquette… Does It Exist?


These holidays we had the fun of attending a kiddie birthday party held on a wine farm.  As usual, the main attraction was definitely the jungle gym, which was actually the only child “friendly” item that I could see.  But the food and view were awesome.  Our kids had lots of fun and Seth (who was the primary watcher because I knew the parents more than he did)had just as much fun. He hasn’t spent much time with the girls recently, so he was very excited.

Can you tell that the girls are on a jungle gym in these pics?  No?  Oh that’s because they are cuter than the jungle gym…

It seems as though parents go to places like this and unleash their little lovelies on to the play apparatus and just disappear.  But not only do they disappear, but they also leave their careless and/or crazy children to run rampant all over the place.  I’m not kidding.  There was not one parent even remotely close enough to do anything should their child randomly fall off the thing, nevermind actually see what their kid was even doing.

I had just made my way over to the jungle gym (whose platform was about the height of my chest and required the kiddos to climb up the wooden beams of death to get to the top), when a little boy – slightly younger than Riya – wandered up to us with a big drinking glass in his hand.  What the heck this kid was doing with this glass I will never know.  He then proceeds to climb to the top of the platform with the glass (a pretty admirable feat as the glass was so wide his little hand could hardly hold the thing).  At this point we realised that there clearly is no parental supervision happening here and so we took the glass away – crisis averted, no more potential for severed limbs or glass shards in heads.  If that wasn’t bad enough, he then stands up, and without any warning at all, JUMPS right onto Seth!  Good grief, I nearly had a heart attack – thankfully Seth caught him!  Turns out the offending parents were sitting merrily at their table, AROUND THE CORNER from the playground and hadn’t witnessed any of the action.

This is not to mention the countless other kids who push swings into my children, or threw stones at other children that happened to be standing right next to my children or even the ones that just push in front at the slide.  Now before you think I am totally over protective (which maybe I am) – I know my kids.  I know that if we leave Riya to her own devices she will fall right off the platform and if she’s lucky enough, end up upside down with one leg caught in the jungle gym saving her life.  But judging from her past experiences I doubt she would be so lucky.  But we don’t only stand there to make sure they don’t kill themselves, I think it’s just etiquette to ensure that you are making it fun for others too.  And besides all of that, they are still young…   But I guess there is some point where you can leave them alone…  Like when they’re 8 or 10 right?

All of this is not even mentioning the fact that removing Riya from the swing resulted in such a violent case of “woe is me” that she almost vomited (this is Ri that we are talking about, she doesn’t vomit. Ever.  I think if anything at all, it has only been like 5 times in her whole life – it’s lovely in comparison to Kyla “The Vomit Comet”!).  The implication of this was that Seth had to leave Kyla in the playground and run Riya over to me for comfort (we have a special bond she and I).  When he returned he found out that Kyla had wandered over to the road…  Now, I know that in this situation you could view us responsible for leaving the kid there, and yes that may be partially true.  Thankfully someone had gone to get her and brought her back to the jungle gym.  Ok, ok, the big bad road was like a dirt road/parking area – but still people!  There was access for cars!  Who knows when one could come!

Due to all these lovely situations just experienced in one day, I propose that we set up some rules for the PARENTS in the Playground:

1. Watch your children.  You spawned them, you look after them!

2. “Watching your children” doesn’t count if  you are more than 2 metres away.  You cannot adequately react from this distance when your child becomes annoying to my child.

3.  If you can see another tired, stressed or tearful parent dealing with a particularly difficult situation with their kid and they need to make a quick run for something, be a nice person and keep an eye on any other children they may have left behind.  Seriously.  They will probably be gone for like 2 minutes.

4.  Teach your offspring some manners and discipline.  If your child does something naughty, flipping deal with it like a parent, not the kids friend.  You are the parent for goodness sake – parent up man!  (Ok, this one is a passion of mine and not only limited to the park – I can’t handle it when parents don’t discipline their naughty kids and let them get away with murder – AAAAhhhhh).

5.  If you see a child about to cause or be a part of possible danger – DO SOMETHING!  You are the adult here, what are you scared of?!

5 thoughts on “Playground Etiquette… Does It Exist?

  1. I hover around Lil when she is on a jungle gym. It freaks me out when other kids get pushy and shovey too because more often than not its older kids who dont think about the little people on the jungle gym. I am all for kids and independence but there is a line…its called ‘I am in a public space, my child is not used to this jungle gym, i know she can also turn into a monster sometimes.’ And so yes I will follow her and supervise her…not just because of the ‘perils’ of a jungle gym, but because if she steps out of line, I dont want her to affect others kids fun time – if only everybody thought this way though!

  2. WOW!! I have never been to a playground here (UK) were parents leave their kids! I must say that I have only 1ce been in a situation where I had to say no to a child for hitting Jacey and even then the parent saw and made the child come over and appologise! The parents here are on the whole pretty respectable and aware of other people and kids in the playground. WHy so different over there? Strange. Maybe it was just that playground? I do agree with you on the dissapline though! Parents should teach their kids it´s not ok to be a bully!

    • Yeah it was a bit crazy, this was not the first time we have had this kind of experience though. Most of the jungle gym situations in most parks have the same sort of incidents – unless we are blessed and are the only ones there that day 😉

  3. I just don’t get some parents. My kids are 3 and 1. There is no way I just let them run around without me. It is hard to take them places where other children are running around like chimps with no mommy or daddy around. I also think about people taking my kid. If you aren’t watching-how do you know your kid is even there?!

    *sigh* I totally know where you are coming from. Thanks for sharing.

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