Playground Etiquette (aka ‘how NOT to piss other moms off’)

True story.

Buckle up folks, it’s about to get real up in here. I have joined forces with a group of bloggers for ‘Themed Thursdays’. Today’s theme is PLAYGROUND ETIQUETTE.

Having three daughters I’ve done considerable time at the various parks/playgrounds in the LA area, frequented by mommies and children from all walks of life, and um…parenting styles . In other words, I’m pretty up on this shit. You know, etiquette and stuff. After all…I AM a Southern girl whose mama pretty much raised me with Amy Vanderbilt‘s book in one hand and Emily Post‘s in the other. Unfortunately, there aren’t any chapters in those reference books covering this subject, so I’ve made up my own set of rules.

Read them. Learn them. Live them. 

1. Accept that kids throw sand, or wood chips, or whatever happens to be the ground covering of choice at the given park. Sometimes it’s by accident, sometimes it’s on purpose. Regardless, unless the ground covering is rocks….which is stupid anyway….don’t act like my child has assaulted yours with a deadly weapon, and then step in to reprimand my child before I’ve had a chance to,  if this happens. Believe me, I know my girls aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. ALL CHILDREN DO. Even yours.

2. If you decide to bring sand toys to the park, realize they will get picked up, licked, and played with…perhaps even broken… by children other than your own. Put your initials or family surname on each and every toy, and be prepared to search around the play area to retrieve them when it’s time to go. And if you aren’t a parent who thinks sharing is a good lesson to teach your child, or you’ve invested the equivalent of a mortgage payment in super cool, unique looking play things in an attempt to grab the attention of every parent kid….leave the fucking toys at home. Because all it does when you try to keep toys away from other kids, is make you look like a controlling bitch raising a selfish kid.

3. Back to the labeling of toys….If, after leaving the park you discover that you have mistakenly picked up someone else’s toy(s) in your haste to get to your next destination, please be courteous and return to the park immediately if possible, but definitely the next day and seek out the owner of the items. Ask everyone at the park if it’s theirs, or put up signs with your cell number if necessary. Because chances are, the kid it belongs to really, really loved whatever it was and threw a nasty tantrum as soon as he/she found out it was missing. Even if they had never even played with it once!

4. Make sure your kids take turns. Don’t let them hijack the swings for an infinite amount of time. Or sit at the bottom of the slide preventing other kids from sliding down. That’s just plain rude, and you know it. And more than likely, if it goes on long enough with no intervention from you, I will allow my kid to slide down anyway, and literally boot yours off with their feet so they land face down in the sand/wood chips/grass. Just sayin.

5. If you are having a group play date, and some of the kids are old enough to utilize riding toys like Razor scooters or bikes or whatever…..don’t let them zoom through the most crowded area of the park at breakneck speed as if they have blinders on. It’s very dangerous, and usually ends up in an injury….and maybe even a lawsuit…against you. I mean, those helicopter parents who freak out about sand throwing would have a field day with that shit.

6. When visiting a park with a ‘water feature‘, make sure your kid knows that just because someone is sitting near the refreshing spray, does not mean they wish to get drenched, while you sit back and laugh because they are splashing recklessly. Oh, and if you happen not to know the park has a water feature and you come unprepared (i.e. without swimming attire) don’t let your kid play in it naked if he or she is over the age of say…2. I’m all for being naked, and teaching my girls to be comfortable with their naked bodies in the right environment…our fenced back yard, our home or in the bathtub. But a public park is not the appropriate environment.

7. Either feed your kid before coming to the park, or bring snacks. Do not allow he/she to take my child’s food while she is not looking, after we have indicated that we didn’t have enough to share. Scavengers are just not welcome. Yes, this really happened, and the mother did nothing. I wanted to feed HER a mouthful of sand.

8. If my child is throwing a tantrum because she has a splinter in her foot, and will not let me get it out, which results in me loudly threatening to cancel the playdate we are at the park to have because she refuses to walk or let me extract the splinter….DO NOT try to swoop in uninvited and be Florence Nightingale. I got it. Thanks.

9. Keep an eye on your kid instead of playing on your smartphone, or gossiping about the latest celebrity to your friend. Don’t assume just because he or she is engaged in play with my child, that I want to be your babysitter. I mean, I WILL NOT discipline your kid if he gets out of line, and if mine takes off in a swift run in another direction, what do you think I’m gonna do? Stay with yours while mine darts off towards the street? Yeah, right.

10. Last but not least….play well with others… yourself. Don’t be a bitch, who thinks her kids are perfect and can do no wrong. They aren’t. That really isn’t setting a good example for your kids, and you won’t make any mommy friends at the park. So there.

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