“MOMMY!!! MOMMY!!! HELP, MOMMY! I CAN’T GET DOWN!”
I looked at this little girl on the ladder of the jungle gym. She was probably 3 years old, the same age as my youngest daughter. The playground was busy. Kids running through the splash pad, swinging up and down on the swings, and climbing all over the jungle gym.
I watched as she yelled for her mommy. She was stuck and wanted her mom’s help to get down. The only problem: her mom was no where to be found. At least from what I could see.
I waited for a bit, not wanting to intervene or scare this little girl. But as the moments passed and she got more and more upset from being stuck, I asked her if she wanted my help to get down. With tears in her eyes, she quickly nodded. As I put her down on the ground, she ran straight over to her mom, who was completely oblivious to the situation. Just sitting down without a care in the world and certainly didn’t seem to mind that her daughter was upset.
I sat and thought as I watched this mother and it made me wonder, does parenting stop at the playground? Are these trips a free pass to chat or get lost in your phone and completely ignore your children? This isn’t the first time that something like this has happened, and it certainly won’t be the last.
As a mom of three, taking the kids to the playground is no walk in the park. It’s tough. Each one wants to do different things and it’s hard to keep track of what everyone is doing. Generally, I can only be focused on one at a time. Usually it’s my youngest, because he requires more of my attention. But as I push him on the swing, I still have my eyes on my other two who are playing and running around. If I see that one needs help and I can’t step in, I’ll thank the other mother who helped me out.
And I know that sometimes we all have to get on our phones. I get it. I’ve been there before. Especially as a mom who works from home and does a lot of things on my phone for work, while still juggling all three children. There are times when I have to stop what I’m doing and use my phone at the playground, too. But that doesn’t excuse me from watching my children. And it doesn’t make me your babysitter.
I am compassionate to frazzled parents (we’ve all been there) and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt in these moments. There are some days that are hard. Real hard. And that trip to the playground feels like the only piece of your day when you can regroup for the sake of your own sanity. It’s an opportunity to just sit there while they run around and do all the crazy things they were doing in the house, but with the freedom to yell and let it all out. It’s wonderful.
But it’s not a vacation.More On