Wednesday, April 9, 2008

park politics

Today we returned, finally, to Rockwood park. It has been a very long winter. I don't think that the playgrounds are officially opened yet in the city (I know the school ones aren't) but it's April, it's over 10 degrees and it's been 6 months since we have been to the park.
The park is still pretty quiet, but we weren't the only one's there. There are two major differences that I noticed with the park. The first is obvious, last spring and summer, Jeremy was a little baby who stayed sleeping in the stroller while his brother played. Today he was a very interactive almost toddler who wanted to go everywhere and try everything. Loves the swing, loves the whale rocker seat, and yes, loves to put the gravel in his mouth. More importantly, loves the idea of walking (near running really). Still holding my hands, but going, going, going. I thought this might happen. At home he doesn't really see the point of walking, he gets where he wants to go quickly by scooting around. The park is not nearly as scooter friendly as our hardwood floors. I think a couple more trips outdoors and he's going on his own.
The second difference was with Elijah's park mobility. Last year he was still very cautious and had definate limitations on the playground. Today, it was so completely different. There isn't an aspect he can't tackle successfully on the jungle gym. Climing everything, running everywhere, and having a blast! It was such a joy to watch him...particularily on the sliding pole, "look at me mom, I'm a fire-fighter" he said as he slid down. He did this about 5 times in a row until...another little boy and his mom showed up. This little boy is at least 1, if not 2 years older than Elijah. I think truly this little boy wanted to have a good time on the playground. He stood in front of the sliding pole with longing eyes as his mother began to talk to me about how scary that sliding pole was. So much so that when she asked her son if he was going down, because Mommy could never do such a scary thing, he said, no. He then tried to block Elijah from taking a turn, saying that he was in charge of the pole and it was for bigger boys. Elijah was very good and used his manners to ask the boy to step aside, which he did and Elijah slid down once more, but this time, had a tiny stumble on the end. He then decided that it was time to go back to the gravel area to dig and build rock-castles. When we returned to the jungle gym a little while later, Elijah headed to the sliding pole once again. He reached out, hesitated, then stopped and said he couldn't go down, it was too scary and opted for the slide instead. He repeated this cycle a few more times and I asked him what was wrong. He just kept repeating that it was too scary and burst into tears. I couldn't believe it. He had been having a ball with this earlier and had been so proud of himself at how much he could do on the playground now that he was a big boy. Fortunately, I was able to convince him that he could go down, I would hold onto him and he'd be fine. We adjusted various stages of this, allowing him to let go of me more and more until finally he was able to go down the pole completely by himself again. I'm glad he did, and I'm glad he worked through it. In the midst of the process of normalising the sliding pole he did tell me that it was that lady that said the pole was scary and that her boy wouldn't slide down because he'd get hurt. I was so frustrated by this...not that Elijah had picked up on her fears, but that she would be so vocal to put fear into these little ones about something that is a part of childhood. There is a definate difference between being cautious and being over-protective and this mother definately fell into the over-protective category. I'm so glad that I was able to help Elijah through that today and plan on taking him back on the next sunny day to encourage him in his play again. But I'm going to be praying for her and her little boy in the meantime...he's going to need it.

1 comment:

Jilly said...

These sorts of moms are so frustrating. I especially love the ones that decide to tell YOUR child that they should follow THEIR arbitrary park rules (my favorite being "don't climb up the slide, please" -- why not? Doesn't it just beg to be climbed up if no one's going down it? I used to when I was a kid). Especially when you have a very cautious, impressionable child, it can be very irritating. I totally understand.

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