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Mommy Musings – Good, Bad and Ugly

POSTED September 1, 2010 12:10 p.m.
This week as I sat preparing my thoughts the words that keep cropping up are: What should I have done? or What would you do?Perhaps I should offer a little clarity on what has me so confused and perplexed.Recently, our family, along with some friends who were here on holiday, visited an area park for some outside activity.It is one of the newer parks, which our three- and six-year-old have come to love, so we were excited to share it with our visitors.When we arrived, the kids scattered in varying directions and so did we. With the youngest of our group being two-and-a-half and the oldest being seven, caution was being exercised in every corner.My three-year-old loves the swing, so as I was ‘swinging her,’ I noticed a number of pint size park attendees climbing the stairs to the high slide, only to turn around and come back down. In time, my little one made her way in that direction and so I positioned myself at the bottom of the slide to wait for her.As I did, I was greeted by three pre-teens sprawled out in the landing area of the slide, making it virtually impossible for little ones to get by. Two of them had their legs draped down two of the three slides and the other was laid out in between the platform. So, recognizing the problem I asked the girls to move so the children could use the slide. They did. My daughter went down (as did other children) and all seemed fine.Close to 45 minutes later, I was greeted (using this term loosely) by one of the girls’ parents. They were angry and the lecture of how dare I address their 11-year-old began pretty quickly.Calmly I shared with the couple that, first I had no idea why they were so upset and second, if they were going to address the incident based on the recollection of their 11-year-old, well then, I had nothing to contribute.The father gathered his emotions, the mother walked away to collect herself and I shared that yes, indeed, I had asked their daughter and her friends to move, so others could use the slide.Of course, the daughter had reported that I told her and her friends to get out of the park and just leave (which I did not say). The father quickly shared that they were just ‘hanging out,’ and not bothering anyone (important to note: said father was not present at the time of the incident or thereafter). He further added that they had used this park close to 50 times and never had a problem.At this point my girlfriend stepped in, reiterating what I had said and adding that for the past 45 minutes (since the request) there did not appear to be a problem.The father pushed on, asking why my children could not have simply ‘climbed’ over them (the pre-teen girls). This, I must say, is where the conversation took a bad turn, as my honest response was insulting to this total stranger.For me the thought or concept of expecting another person to push past or climb over someone to do anything is unacceptable. But perhaps, that is just me.My husband and I have raised our children to go through life as we do, always treating others with respect — regardless.The simple fact that it was suggested that my three-year-old climb over three 11-year-olds to use a slide which is 12 feet up — well, it explained to me, why his daughter did not move on her own accord.I tried to tactfully point this out to the father, who became increasingly angry, citing that I was judging him and how dare I question his morals. Oiy! Bad turn indeed. My hope of course was that by repeating what he had said, he would recognize the ridiculousness of such a statement. Sometimes we become irrational when we are angry and I had hoped that was the case with this couple.Well, I was half right. Through the course of this drama, the mother had collected herself and indeed apologized for how she approached me. She mentioned the girls had a run-in the prior week with someone at the same park and it now had put her on edge.I accepted her apology and explained as a mother, I really did understand. I also shared that I understood how hard it must be to be 11-years-old in a small town, with limited things to do. I would never suggest the park is for little ones only. However, I would expect that all using it (regardless of age) are respectful of one another.I apologized to the father as well, for saying something he felt was ‘insulting and judgmental,’ but for him that was not enough.So now, I am left wondering — is it me or do we just expect less of our children these days? I posted an abbreviated version of the dilemma on my “Oakdale’s Mommy Musings” Face Book page and was surprised by the number of people who said ‘deal with it - go around’ or quite simply ‘don’t have kids.’Of course there were also many posts citing the importance of sharing and respect. I should also point out that during the ‘park discussion’ with the parents of said girl, another set of parents arrived. As they listened to the recount second hand, they quickly shared they had spoken to their daughter and in the future she would move out of the way. Bravo! That’s all I was asking.But is this what we have evolved to? Are we now a society that expects less and less of our young people and discounts rational behavior or the words of other adults?Is it now just okay for us to knowingly be in the way and not care? Something just does not seem right about that sentence.But again … maybe that’s just me. Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at thammond@oakdaleleader.com or by calling 847-3021.
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