OPP: Obnoxious Playground Parent

kickingNow, my kid just started walking so I’m hardly one to talk but I can’t help it despite the fact that it may become hypocritical.  In fact, I’ll probably eat these words in a year or two.  But why is there so much yelling going on at the playground? Have you ever just sat and listened to how much yelling and screaming goes on? I’m not talking about the kids. Hell, those little munchkins are running around like rats at a peanut butter factory. Their job is to yell, run, jump, fall, push and generally burn up a huge amount of calories so they can get to bed and start all over again the next day. No, the yelling I’m talking about is the OPP: Obnoxious Playground Parent.

Is it so hard to sit on a bench and when a kid says,”Daddy/Mommy look at me!” to put your paper down for 1/5 of a second and just nodd “Uh-h” and murmur, “be careful” or “don’t break your neck”.  This is the extent of the oversight that kids need (we’re talking kids old enough to run, jump and play — not teens or infants here).

Instead, the OPP runs a basecamp off the nearest bench with a full array of snacks, toys, strollers, cell phones, PDA’s and assorted caffeinated beverages.  They constantly have a cell phone on their ear or worse, a Bluetooth. They yell at their kid to slow down, to share, to come have a drink, to come do something the kid doesn’t want to do, whatever that might be.  They hurt my brain by micro-managing the activities of a child who is involved in playing. Playing doesn’t need to be micro-managed, it is done is just fine.  I saw a special on kids who are biters. Why do kids bite? Because they aren’t allowed to run around, punch, scream and get the jiggles out other times. They’re being micro-managed down to the second and told what to do.  Some geniuses put a punching bag in the classr0om so when kids get angry, the go beat the hell out of the bag instead of acting like rabid wolves.   Duh.  Our elitist culture is so intent on having our children go to Harvard that we don’t allow them to act like animals on the playground when that’s exactly what they need! We restrict their “play” time to dates, soccer practice and video games.  No wonder they need counseling.  We are demanding that they be restrained during the only period in their lives when they have societies’ permission not to be restrained.

Just the other day I was pushing the Bean on the baby swing. She digs it, though much of the novelty has worn off after about 100 pushes for both of us.  I’m observing a little boy maybe 3-4 years old playing in the sand area with a bucket and shovel.  His mom is standing over him directing him on how to play with his bucket.  She’s constantly saying, “No, you’re doing it wrong.”  How can a kid play wrong? They can’t. But the message the kid hears is that he’s doing something wrong and his mom thinks he’s an idiot.  When do we stop projecting our own insecurities on our children.  Christ, let them at least grow up to be teenagers before you inflict all your neurosis on them.

Sure, you can have kids get into trouble at play, they can wander off they can do a whole load of things on a playground that’s not suitable for their continued survival.  What irritates me is the managing of every aspect of play.  Doesn’t need to be done.  Kids fall down. Kids run. Repeat. Rinse.

My suggestion to parents who feel the need to participate in the actualization of play at the playground is to take a good book or a newspaper, sit your yoga pants wearing ass down and relax.  Give a pre-determined amount of time to play (45 minutes or an hour or whatever) then leave the kids alone.   Should you give the kid liscense to murder and pillage younger children or fight like they’re in the UFC Octogon? No, but damnit, kids need to stretch their imagination and create their own play, not be regulated and restricted by an adult.

Take the Bluetooth out too. You look like an idiot.

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