When I try to push my double-decker stroller through a tight space, or up a step in order to enter a store, and someone offers to help, I say, “it takes a village.” Repeating the same line with the same prompt is yet another sign that I am turning into my parents, but I digress.
Watching my daughter at the playground I’m forced to juggle two conflicting feelings of disciplining someone else’s child and forcing my daughter to defend herself.
But there are bigger kids at the playground. Big kids with lots of energy. If they can’t go crazy in the park, then where can they let out all of their energy? It’s when they get close to my daughter, or son who tends to hang out in the lower deck of the double decker stroller, or throw things or try to break things that I feel the urge to speak up.
I look around, trying to identify their caregivers who, if I can locate, is either sleeping, reading, talking on the cellphone or engaged in some other activity that does not entail monitoring their children. Basically leaving my harsh stare unnoticed.The kids have been quasi-receptive to my protectiveness and I’ve learned not to go to the playground immediately after school gets out.
But then there are the younger kids who have been known to hit, throw sand or grab toys from my daughter. I’ve heard theories that I should let me daughter defend herself when someone grabs a toy from her. By snatching the coveted toy from the second child and returning it to the first, I’m merely mimicking the exact behavior I want to avoid. So I bend down and try to calm my daughter down, distract her with a new toy and attempt, often unsuccessfully, the snatcher to return said object. I’m not nearly as polite when a child throws something and have often had to bite my tongue when someone does not want to share.
I don’t know if the caregivers of these wild children are oblivious to their children’s not-so-friendly behavior or if they turn a blind eye, but I am doing my part in the Village and saying something.
*This was previously published on the now-defunct NYC Moms Blog.