I'm Definitely NOT Without Sin, BUT....

I try really hard not to judge other parents. I know full well that parenting can be like a box of chocolates mixed with rabbit poop -- you REALLY never know what you're gonna get. So go ahead, feed your toddler chocolate in front of me, leave them wailing and beating their fists on the floor of the mall for as long as you like, use whatever bribery or blackmail seems required... whatever gets you through.
My kids are fairly timid and clumsy, so they're not big climbers or clamberers or daredevils. A lot of kids are, and their parents let them climb things or jump off things that I don't have to debate letting my kids climb or jump off because it just doesn't come up.
However, today we were at this great park we go to quite often. There are a bunch of different areas with different play structures, and a splash pad. My friends and our eight kids and one baby were pretty much the only ones there for a bit, and then a summer camp of twenty kids showed up. It got a little crazy, nothing major. Then one boy climbed up on the top of the play structure where our kids were playing. Now, I've seen kids get on top of a play structure with a flat roof. It doesn't thrill me, but really, it's the same surface they would be on inside the play structure, just a little higher. This was not a flat roof. This was a curved piece of slippery plastic that was barely as wide as his body, which was over three slides so there were kids rushing by under him and bumping him. If he fell, it was far enough to do real damage.
In short, this seemed to be like the classic 'real bad idea'.
photo credit
creative commons license
We didn't really know what to do. His sister kept yelling at him to come down, but no parent appeared. I was on the verge of going over and asking him where his Mom or Dad was just so I could go ask them if they were okay with this, because (this does not show me in the best light) if he fell, then at least I could say I drew someone's attention to it. As I was about to go over, one of the camp counsellors seemed to be approaching him, so I thought maybe he was with the camp. But the counsellor just looked at him as if he was having the same 'real bad idea' thought, but he didn't actually say anything.
Just as one of us was about to go over again, we see this woman running over from another play area. We breathe a sigh of relief. We wait for her to say "are you crazy? Get down from there this minute! You'll break your neck!"
Instead, she pulls out a camera and takes a picture.
So I'm at a total loss. I have no idea if I should have said something. Why is it so hard to say something? Instead I just thought "well, at least she'll have a good shot to show them when the emergency room doctor asks 'and how exactly did this happen?'" Bitchy, I know. I wonder what I've done to make people feel about me the way I felt about that woman.


Anonymous said…
I just bought my one-year-old a step stool for the kitchen. He can't walk or stand well, but he climbs the step stool and holds on to the counter. I tried discouraging him when he started climbing his sister's. I even left it on its side when not in use. But as soon the 4-year-old climbed upt the baby followed, and then they jockeyed for position and fought. So I decided having a step stool of his own was safer.

My point is that my kids ARE daredevils and climbers. I'm regularly pulling them off of stuff and fearing for their necks. But your story scares even me. I've been known to photograph messes and perches, but when I feel it's truly death-defying I leave the camera in the bag.
Lynn said…
Oh, this is a really tough one. I've learned that parents cannot take any hint of suggested criticism...anything you said would only have been taken as an insult, and I'm sure you would have found yourself in the middle of something messy.

Still, it's hard to know what to do if you think a child is really in danger. A tough one for sure!
Anonymous said…
Wow! I never really thought about myself this way but turns out - I'm an interfering mama. I probably would have walked over and said "hey kiddo, you need to get down from there".

I know this because last weekend I told (nicely) a little girl at the zoo that she shouldn't grap the sting ray's tail (you were allowed to stroke them, which they like, but they don't like having their tails touched - which the sign clearly said - and which was also clear from the way the sting rays leaped to get away). Actually, the kids mum was right behind her. I got fed up waiting for her mum to say something. I probably pissed off the mum but really - not a big fan of seeing animals tortured in front of me.

Hmm, gotta think about how I would feel about other mums interfering with my parenting. Thanks for a thought provoking post.ZED
Rosemary said…
I have stuggled with my little daredevil's nature for 10 years. I've learned that I have to allow him to take 'acceptable' risks so that he won't take much worse and completely unacceptable risks while I'm not looking. My kid has got to get it out somehow, he's a thrill seeker. I'm sure that there have been many times that I have let my child do something in a park that have made other parents consider calling children's services. I will also say that I have tried to capture on film some of my child's heroics just to show people that yes - he is crazy and it feeds my anxiety disorder. Big however - if there is any immediate life altering danger I'm stopping the behavior immediately. I also think that in a park, older children need to be responsible examples for little ones and not show them what is 'possible'. That all said, perhaps this woman's relative experience with this child was much worse. This may have been nothing to her! Now that's scary!

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