Tuesday, November 15, 2011

10 Reasons I Hate The Playground

Tot Lot. 
Jungle Gym.  
You can call it whatever you want.  
I'll still hate it.  
I never quite understood why mothers of older kids would get so huffy when they passed a park with monkey bars and swings and slides that seemed to scream, "Come play! It's FUN in here."
Maybe back in the day when you were a carefree kid with no fear whatsoever.  When someone ELSE was there to break your fall and make sure you got a fair turn on the seesaw.  Maybe it was FUN after a few beers and God knows what else back in college.  
But once you become a parent going to the playground is pure torture.  

My playground "10" list... 

1) Negligent nannies: They're everywhere, I'll admit.  But nowhere are they more abundant and more negligent than at the playground.  Listen, I have nothing against nannies or those who employ them.  I often daydream that Mary Poppins herself will swoop in and rescue me.  But put me in a playground with a group of nannies who are more interested in swapping stories about Mr. & Mrs. So-And-So and trading pay secrets than doing any actual nannying and I will go berserk.  The children they're minding are pushing and shoving MY kid and they could care less.  There's no disciplining, no nose wiping, and no general overseeing.  Either get it together or get lost.  

2) Lack of swing space: Ever notice how few swings there are at the playground? The swing to slide ratio is completely out of whack.  What happens when one of those kids with the negligent nannies piggy backs on my slow-as-molasses toddler going down the slide? We need to escape to the swings.  But there's a line.  So Mackenzie ends up eating half the contents of the sandbox while we wait our turn.  
Not to mention the fact that most playground swings are in dire need of some WD-40.  If I heard one more creak or squeak the other day I was going to go ballistic.    

3) Deadly drops: I don't know about you but if I were going to design a space for children to run around like animals I'd probably NOT have it include a 6-foot free-fall option.  But hey, that's just me.  Maybe some parents are totally cool with broken bones and an afternoon trip to the ER.  

4) Pushy parents: You know who they are.  They think your local playground is hosting Olympic tryouts.  And God forbid Mackenzie doesn't perfect her form on the balance beam.  What's that? She can't figure out the mini climbing wall? There goes any shot at an athletic scholarship.  (Insert eye roll here.)

5) Scorching slides, slick slides, sticky slides: What's up with slides these days? Back when we were kids they were metal.  Metal equals HOT.  Remember going down the slide and thinking you'd never feel the backs of your legs again? So they made improvements.  Good 'ole plastic improvements.  But they're still hot.  I learned that lesson the hard way.  Or rather, Mackenzie did.  I just felt like a crappy mother for assuming a plastic slide wouldn't absorb sunlight like a metal one would.  If your slide of choice ISN'T giving your child three-degree burns you're in luck but you're probably not in the clear.  For every hot slide there's a wet one.  And there's nothing fun about toting around a soggy-pants child.  Finally, slides pose yet another problem: they add friction to the rubber soles of our kids' shoes.  And if your child is anything like mine then you know that young kids have a tendency to go down slides backwards, sideways, or spread eagle.  Crooked form + rubber sole + plastic slide = broken leg.  So there's THAT to think about, too.  

6) Model moms: No, not as in, "She's a model mom.  Look at her playing with her kids and never once complaining that it's too cold to be seesawing." Model moms think they're on the catwalk.  I guess I can understand (to a degree) why someone would get all dolled up for a play date at the park.  When else do mothers REALLY get an excuse to lose the stained sweats and grandpa slippers? But I saw everything from designer handbags to 5-inch heels at the muddy, hay-drenched pumpkin playground this year and I've got to tell you... I just didn't get it.  Hey moms, it's OK to dress down in public.  Even Gisele subscribes to the idea that sensible is sometimes best.  

7) Spilled food: There are typically signs at public parks and playgrounds.  Those signs are there for a reason.  They share with the masses a list of rules.  Rules that are intended to be followed.  One rule that seems subject to being broken? NO FOOD ALLOWED.  I follow this rule.  Some others do not.  Therefore, MY kid ends up eating THEIR kid's forgotten raisins.  EW.  Why don't you just hand me a chicken pox lollipop while we're at it.  

8) Cute dads: Sure a little bit of eye candy doesn't hurt every now and again.  I'm no prude.  But sometimes cute dads have a tendency to think they get a pass at the playground.  Not so.  Just because you jogged your stroller on over here in your muscle shirt doesn't mean you're allowed a freebie.  Back of the line, buddy.  You can wait for a swing just like the rest of us.  

9) Sick kiddos: There's a theory among mothers that fresh air is a good remedy in times of sickness.  I, for one, believe in this theory.  However, it becomes moot when your child licks the rails on the jungle gym and coughs in every other kid's face.  Here's an idea.  Take your sniffling, hacking, drippy-nose child for a walk.  Alone.  

10) Time to leave the playground? Good luck with that.  Enough said.

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