I have been making a concentrated effort to get out with Canyon to the playground at least 2 or 3 times a week. It’s good for him and good for me. We get fresh air, we have quality time together and we both work on our socialization skills.
I have mentioned before that we like to explore a variety of playgrounds in the area. This last week we have been a bit in love with Wells Park which is about 2 miles from our house. There are two seperate playgrounds-one I call the dirty, mulchy, unfenced park and then the fancy, new, secure park. We like both!
The dirty mulchy unfenced side has a fast metal slide, is less crowded and you can dig in the mulch. The fancy new secure side has new and fun equipment, more kids to play with and is nicely fenced in with great sight lines. It also has four sewers.
Canyon loves sewers. He likes to drop rocks and dandelion flowers down into the grate. He likes to look at the water.
I am fine with him checking out the sewer. As long as there are no creepy Stephen King clowns waving to him and saying “We all float down here” then I am cool with it. Not all the parents and nannies are though.
The third sewer at the park is in a hole full of dirt and rocks so Canyon loved sitting in the hole and having easy access to rocks and dirt that he could drop into the grate. I checked the area for safety-there was no way he could fall or hurt himself. And he was having a great time.
So I sat down under a tree and watched him have fun.
One Grandma-type Nanny was horrified that I was letting him sit in the dirt. Several moms looked alarmed that he was sitting in a hole. Some were grossed out that he was getting dirty. As far as I was concerned the dirt was definitely less germ infested than the playground equipment was. And getting dirty is good for you!
Canyon being happy makes me happy. Sitting under a tree breathing in fresh air makes me happy.
This is me being happy.
The next visit to the park was not as fun. I brought a ball and a bubble wand and we entered the park. The sewers were not as exciting as last time and Canyon wanted to climb and run around. I watched a woman play with two kids and she kept encouraging them to try harder and more challenging climbs. When the little boy asked for help she said, “You are a victim of over parenting. That’s why you are afraid to take risks. You need to learn how to be a risk taker!” I liked her.
I blew bubbles and Canyon and other little ones chased them all around the park. A little 18month old boy wanted to help and I let him have the wand and the mother kept apologizing that he was spilling bubbles. “It’s like a dollar for more bubbles! Who cares!” I laughed. Canyon left his ball out and another little girl picked it up to play with it. Her mom panicked-“who’s ball is that? Where did you get it?” I smiled-“It’s ours. Go ahead and play with it!” She looked at me, unsure. “Are you sure?” “yeah, have fun!” I ran after Canyon, leaving them the ball. Then Canyon saw an unattended stroller full of toys. Two little basketballs, bubbles, chalk, paddle ball, etc. He grabbed one of the mini balls and ran off to play with it. I saw a Dad give him an angry look and he came over to the stroller with a two year old. Owner/Dad got all snippy about it but his son didn’t care at all. I said, “sorry, you have lots of cool toys” and he said, “that’s by design.” I smile and say we brought toys too you just never know what they will want in the moment”.
I went and got our ball from the bench and tried to entice Canyon away from the new ball. Nope. I had to keep trying to pull this silly ball away from a crying, screaming Canyon while Dad stood there watching me get more and more stressed out. At one point he gave a half hearted “it’s OK” and I said, “I hope so because he really wants it.” I tried to relax and just let it go but it clearly wasn’t OK with that guy. I tried just taking it and putting it back in the stroller. Nope. The Dad saw how upsetting this was to both Canyon and I and didn’t have any empathy for us. None. So I finally pulled the ball away one last time and made Canyon leave the playground, crying.
Looking back on it I wish I had just said, “Sorry, I hope it’s OK that he plays with it for a few minutes. I will bring it back when he gets bored with it in a few minutes”. But I didn’t. It also made me understand why the first mom was so nervous when her daughter had our ball. She probably thought I was going to cut her over it! I posted on Facebook about it later and most parents agreed that if you don’t want to share your toys don’t bring them to a playground-especially one that is mainly full of kids 4 and under. Some parents seemed to think maybe he was afraid that we would steal it. Another good point was that sometimes kids shouldn’t have to share. Which I agree with it. But that’s a hard lesson to teach to a three year old on a playground, especially a non-verbal three year old. I wouldn’t expect Canyon to just hand over a toy to a stranger if he was playing with it but this ball was not being used and the little boy didn’t mind at all that Canyon wanted to play with it. Oh well. Time to let it go. Canyon did right away…
But next time I am bringing bubbles, a big ball AND a mini ball! I might even bring an extra one to share…