Play Spaces Are Not Baby SittersBeth Anne Ballance
STOP TREATING PLAY SPACES AS BABY SITTERS.
I’m looking at you, parents grouped together in Chick-Fil-A, finishing your salads and yapping away. Because telling your child to, “Be good!” as you wave them off into the ball pit? It doesn’t work like that. And while you’re not watching your most precious contribution to the universe, he’s Chuck Norris-ing another kid.
All in good fun, of course. But completely unsupervised. And that’s how kids get hurt.
I’m not saying that you have to be all up in your child’s business. Lord knows that I am a free-range parent and a staunch believer in kids being kids. Sometimes kids get bitten and slapped and have their feelings hurt. That’s life, but we do our best to give them the resources and teaching to help them grow in social settings. And that can’t be done on the other side of the restaurant.
A few months ago, I was the only mom sitting in a play space at lunch time. I had my phone in my hand, texting with a friend, letting Harry do is own thing. There were about 8 kids, including my own, and things were getting rowdy. I asked the boys to calm down a little bit, to lower their ear-splitting screams, to act like regular chimpanzees rather than chimpanzees on meth. Because I get it, they’re going to be wild but there’s a difference between wild and uncontrollable. But then I noticed some girls being not-so-nice to some boys, including my son, telling him that he wasn’t allowed in a certain area and that they didn’t like him. Then they started grilling Harrison on his name was and his age and he looked at me with a trembling lip and I lost my momma bear mind. I told them to knock it off, but I was shaking with rage because where were their mothers? Where were their adults? Why was I having to correct the behavior of some strange kid? Not to mention the fear that their mothers would see me correcting them and come charging in all how dare I discipline her child?!
Which then I would have really lost my mind and my husband would have probably posted bail that day.
So parents, I’m not asking to be crawling up your kid’s butt 24/7. But I’m asking that if you can’t take the ear-splitting screams of the play space, at the very least sit right outside the glass and keep an eye out. It just works better that way for everyone.
PS. Inspired by the 13:1 ratio I endured last week. Thirteen children in the play space and I was the only adult. What gives?
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