Opinion: Playground Etiquette
There’a Peppa Pig episode in which Grandpa Pig upsets the
playground by letting the littlest ones ahead of the bigger kids on the rides. It results in everyone claiming some special right to go next:
‘It’s my birthday tomorrow, so I should go next.’
‘I’m wearing glasses, so I should go next.’
‘I’m the oldest, so I should go next’.
Everyone is in tears until someone points out that there is only one rule in the playground – ‘everyone takes their turn’.
Everyone takes their turn. Watching Peppa Pig I initially took it as a swipe at parents meddling in kids stuff that kids are more that capable of taking care of themselves. The whole idea that the playground worked fine until an adult came to take over has rung true on many occasions. But, today I realised there is another meaning – ‘everyone takes their turn’ needs to be taught.
I took The President (4 y.o.) to the park today and while playing, he become stuck at the top of the slide with a small group of children while a second group played on the bottom of the slide preventing the would-be sliders from descending. This happens all the time in playgrounds, every kid loves climbing up the slide the wrong way, The President included. The problem here was that it was creating a traffic jam.
Looking around, I could see the parents of the children involved all gathered around having chat and paying little attention to the playground. I have no judgement here. I completely understand that this might be the first adult contact you’ve had all day, and that for the the short time you are at the playground and your child being willing to play without your constant attention might be the best part of the week. I’m with you. My question is – what do you want me to do?
Do you want me to teach your child this lesson? ‘Hey, guys you’re in way. Remember, everyone takes their turn?’ Are you comfortable with having me teach that lesson? If your child comes to you after and tells you that they, ‘Got told off by a man’. What is your assumption going to be? That, the ‘man’ was teaching your child a lesson? Would you feel judged?
Happily, I didn’t have to do anything. A bigger, more aggressive boy than The President pushed the smaller children aside, slid down the slide and bowled over the kids at the bottom like skittles. Now he was the bad guy. And the slide lingerers learned a lesson the hard way.
Still the question remains – what’s the etiquette here as a parent?