The first time I had an inkling that modern-day parenting had gone haywire was when I took my son to a playground for the first time.
I distinctly remember like it was yesterday my toddler making his way up and around the playground apparatus. I raced around on the ground around the jungle gym trying to anticipate his next move so that I could be there to catch him if he fell or hurdled his body off in the wrong direction. I was exhausted, running circles around this thing trying to avoid his untimely death.
After about ten minutes, I thought “This is really tiring – how do people do this?”
I looked around and noticed that there were several mothers actually on the playground with their kids.
I was the only mom on the ground.
Huge women were plunging through tunnels, going down the slide and talking into the speaker piece on ground level, requesting cheeseburgers and coffees from their child on the other side.
I held my toddler and stared at these women with my mouth open in shock and awe. Not one child was playing with another child, every child had a huge adult counterpart to play with. It was as though I was living a creepy Alice in Wonderland type nightmare. It was insane.
I spent many years at said playground.
If you take notice you will find at playgrounds all across America, there are inevitably mothers on the equipment posing as playmates for their young children.
I have been guilty of it myself. When the kids would ask me to play with them – I have been known to order a dirty martini over the microphone or take a couple swings on a tire swing.
But as my children are older, I have come to realize that this playground play is exactly where the trouble starts. We are setting these kids up for disaster by not letting them learn to PLAY ALONE!!!
My third grader has had some recent difficulty navigating the social scene during recess.
He sits at an assigned seat at lunch at his institutionalized lunch table eating prison food (if he buys) and then he files out the door (like a prisoner) to recess. Here he searches for kids who he knows from lunch or class to play with.
However, it seems that “play” doesn’t come easily for a generation of kids used to ordering french fries from their mother on the playground for 5 years.
While some kids play games or sports, he tells me about the group of kids that are cub scouts that go off and talk about their “secret Cub Scout stuff.” It seems that kids seem to pair off with specific agendas and cannot be swayed to do something else or play with someone else.
My son was friends with these kids in kindergarten that ended up being in a weird cub scout cult in 3rd grade and he is not now, nor will ever be a cub scout.
As you can imagine Mr. Gaga is not about to wear some weird pinned shirt with “nut hugger shorts” so Cub Scouts is not part of the acceptable Gaga activity list.
This leaves Michael at a loss of what to do during recess, as the “supercool cub scout kids” won’t let him play with them because they are busy talking about secret “cub scout stuff.”
Initially he thought that he should join the cub scouts and that would solve his problems – but we quickly put the kibosh on that…
“I don’t know – maybe it will be fine, I mean what did you do during recess in 3rd grade?” I asked Mr. Gaga.
“I don’t know – played kickball…” he answered. “What did you do?”
“Well…..I don’t remember……I remember one time we were at recess and this girl who had like 6 older brothers and sisters told us there was no such thing as Santa Claus and then one time a kid was swinging and he jumped off the swing in the air and broke his arm, and I also I remember that there was a clear glue that was oozing out of the bricks on the school building – and we used to pretend it was gum. We would run up to the wall and say “Oh…it’s gum!” and run away.”
He stared at me with disgust. “Well, I think it’s safe to say where he gets his recess troubles…”
He could be right.
We have helped guide him with ideas and suggested other kids to play with. It is sad to imagine him drifting alone on the playground, I desperately want him to be happy during the mere 20 minutes of freedom that he has during his long days as a prisoner of “core curriculum training.”
While I have not been happy about his recess struggles, I chalk it up to being a fact of life, and something that he has to figure out.
While Mr. Gaga and I are able to rationally sit down and discuss things and get to the root of our troubles (my poor recess skills as a child and our mutual disdain for the cubscouts) – the rest of this town can’t seem to get it together.( What else is new?)
You remember how I live in a town filled with people who don’t cut their children’s hair, who throw out their dining room sets to make room for play, and tell their two-year-olds that Santa doesn’t exist?
It seems Michael is not the only child having social difficulty during recess.
In the latest act of helicopter parenting - parents have complained about recess enough that the principal of an elementary school in town has sent out a request for parent volunteers for recess.
You heard correctly.
Parent volunteers will be on hand during recess everyday – to guide children at play and help them decide who and what to play with.
I can’t believe that parents have once again decided to interfere and become involved with yet another arena that has nothing to do with them to protect their children.
No matter what troubles Michael might be having – the last thing I want is some bored stupid twat mother telling him what to do!!!
At what point will this generation of children be allowed to play or interact on their own? Isn’t enough that you went down the slide with them until they were 8 years old? Will anyone ever cut the cord??
It is shocking and disappointing to think that one day this new policy might be in place at my children’s school as well.
Although it disgusts me and I find it beyond offensive to imagine children being herded into groups and told who to play with by some bored housewife….
I will have no choice but to volunteer to be sure that I am getting a chance to “help my kids play.”
Let’s hope that this policy doesn’t become the norm.
Believe me when I tell you….the last thing any of you want is for me to be a parent volunteer at your kid’s recess….
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