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Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Hierarchy of the Playground - Part One

The park is the place to go if you want to see all types of parenting and children from all walks of life smooshed together in one giant heap. It's like a cold war on the playground sometimes. All the mommies trying to be friendly while keeping one nervous eye on their little ones to make sure that their own kid isn't the one who pushes little Suzie down the slide today. At the same time, they are all trying to posture to see who can come out on top of  the 'Mommy With Best Behaved Toddler' category.

Ender is actually quite mild mannered when it comes to his interactions with other kids so I don't generally have to worry that he's going to physically harm anyone at the playground. He is not slappy or pushy now (he used to straight-arm kids to the ground to claim a firetruck) but he can get very attached to certain toys and very loud when he thinks someone has taken it from him. And by 'taken' I mean started to play with it while Ender was neither using it nor aware of its existence. We're working on that :/

So we run into all kinds at the park next door and I thought it would be fun to try to define them in some way. To get started, here are some of the sub-groups that I could come up with:

  1. The Aged Toddler.  Seasoned, world weary four year olds who don't like any kids less than four years old. They tend to tell the little ones to bug off whenever one strays near.
  2. The Clinger.  Kids who have invisible parents. Once they spot you actively playing with your own kid they smell the compassion on you and adopt you as their own. They will talk your ear off, insist that you look at cool stuff and beg for pushes on the swings.
  3. The Screamer.  These are the kids that scream so loud over random shit that their voices crack and warble. Like yelling 'THERE IS A ROCK BY THE SWING! OH MY GOD!' before taking another sip of their Big Gulp. They howl and run and smash into stationary structures with all the grace of an tiny wino.
  4. The Girl Pack.  Girls who will never play by herself if there is another female child within a 40 foot radius. The girl packs will converge on a play structure and none shall enter without their permission (which is rarely granted without parental intervention).
  5. The Loner.  The kids who just want to climb around by themselves or with mommy/daddy, offering up a meek smile to any random passers by and might just participate in a short, to-the-point 'look what I can do' conversation if they are feeling particularly engaging that day. Usually the two and three year old set. Ender fits in this category.
  6. The Playdater.  Includes kids from any of the above categories who have arrived at the park with prior acquaintances. These kids play quite well among themselves, chatting and running and generally giving those Playdate Mommies over there on the park bench a 5 minute window to chat with another adult and drink 1/3 of a latte unfettered by tyrannical demands. Lucky bitches.

There are many variations on the above list but I just wanted to cover the groups I see the most. Feel free to comment if I've left out a major subset and I'll add it in.

In the essence of fairness I will extrapolate on the major groups of parents in The Hierarchy - Part Two (coming soon!).

Singing in the rain!
My little loner - Mickey umbrella and a bit of rain and he's good to go.


Rich said...

You forgot the pack of 12 to 14 year old tweens who hang out for lack of anything better to do!

Anonymous said...

I think my kids fall in the "sibling" category. Even if there are other kids (assuming they don't know them) they will play with eachother the entire time even if they can play with each other any other time. And the reason they are probably at the park is because they were getting on each other's nerves at home. If you want to meet at the park across from us, let me know! K would love to play with E!

BTW - the "clinger kids" irritate me the most. Or maybe it's their parents. Actually both. Looking forward to the parent list.

Tracy said...

The clinger kid parents irritate me the most too, to be honest. I totally forgot the Sibling group! Very similar to the playdaters ;)

We should totally get together for a park date. I pick E up at 12:30 and he goes for his nap around 1 or 2 but he's actually pretty flexible with that timing now.

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