I’m a pretty laid back parent. I mean, aside from expecting my kids to follow the rules and treat their elders with respect and navigate the world from a place of kindness, I have very few expectations that other parents might consider unreasonable.
I let them “run wild,” for example, spending their days riding bikes through the neighborhood common area and playing at the neighborhood park and building forts in the neighborhood forest with their friends.
I don’t over-schedule them or act like a raging lunatic on the sidelines of their sports games or regulate their screen time down to the second or deprive them of the occasional sweet or late bedtime.
I ensure they get to school on time and help with homework and make sure they’re behaving themselves in the classroom, all while helping them recognize that what happens there isn’t going to cause the earth to stop spinning.
The usual stuff.
But there is one thing I get bent out of shape about and make certain they never do, and it’s this: go UP the slide at a public park when other kids are waiting to go down.
What is this tomfuckery? Really, I want to know. And what’s more, what is up with parents defending this practice?
Like, what do people who don’t find this problematic think this is? Some free-for-all that exempts you and yours from having common courtesy for your fellow park-goers? Some alternate universe where the guidelines don’t apply to you?
Yeah, I’m that parent who insists my kids get out of the way when someone else’s kid is patiently waiting his or her turn for an anti-climactic descent down a plastic slope, and I expect everyone else to do the same.
Why is this such a hard thing? Why do people scoff at this expectation? If there’s nobody else there, let the kids climb that slide up, down, and sideways. But when there are others there with whom you should share the space, get them the hell out of the way.
A lot of parents find this ridiculous. Whatever. I find not having respect for community members and thinking your desires are somehow above everyone else’s ridiculous, so I guess we’re even.
Why can’t we agree on this? When your kids are alone in a public place or in the comfort of their own private spaces, let them go balls to the wall. I know I do.
Because it’s not really about the slide. I couldn’t care less about a stupid slide.
It’s about having respect for others. It’s about understanding that we share this world. It’s about learning that we aren’t the center of the universe. It’s about each of us doing our part to make room for everyone to have a fair chance in this world.
Because frankly, there are obviously a lot of adults out there who have been going up the slide for some time, and the rest of us with actual respect for others are sick of it.
Do better by your kids. We don’t need more of the same.
When there are other people present, teach your kids to have a little self-awareness and practice some basic manners.
The world will thank you.