Thursday, October 4, 2012

Theme Thursday: Playground Etiquette

Hooray for the first weekly edition of Theme Thursdays, in which I will be blogging about a selected topic as part of a larger blogging group. My good friend Jenn came up with this fun experiment that will consist of a number of bloggers writing about the same topic, each offering our personal take on it. It was going to be Topic Tuesday but we negotiated into Themed Thursdays so feel free to take all of your earlier excitement for Tuesdays and schedule it to resurface on Thursdays, thanks. Links are at the bottom of this post so you can keep on reading and hear many different voices about one concept. Hello sociology!

I think all of the other bloggers in the group at the moment are mothers. I'm not sure how many are stay at home moms but I know that all of them know their way around a playground. Our first topic, therefore, was selected as playgrounds or playground etiquette.

I would like to think I can offer a unique perspective on some parenting issues as someone who is not yet a parent but had a couple parents, works with parents and knows a lot of them. To be honest, though, writing about playgrounds and playground etiquette kind of had me stumped. Let me review my experience with playgrounds up to this point:
  • As a kid I played on them. It was always a big treat when my mom would stop at one of those wooden playgrounds (they must have been new and exciting in the 80s). Of note, my mom was a bit of a self proclaimed gypsy and really enjoyed road tripping for the day. We once drove to Canada just to say we did and often went to New Hampshire or Rhode Island-from Massachusetts-for lunch. So I have vivid memories of driving to Cape Cod for the day and my reward for tolerating hours in the car was to stop at a wooden playground in Wareham. 
  • I also had my first kiss at a playground. It was right by my parent's house and it was a glorious summer day. I still feel like that park and I share a secret camaraderie when I drive by the section where it took place.
  • As a young adult, playgrounds were places to go after all the kiddos went to bed. I am sure I don't have to elaborate on the kinds of activities that were on the table at that stage. And who am I kidding? I am still kind of in this stage. 
  • By day, currently, my office overlooks a playground. It's a little chilly but there are 4 adults, 4 kids and a dog out there at the moment I am writing this. My voyeurism is my greatest connection to playgrounds at this point and I think this is where I might have something to add to the conversation.... 
Goings on that I shouldn't see at the Playground when I look out my office window
  1. Puppies being tossed down slides. Yes, that happened one day for an extended period of time. The kids were having a blast, they actually did have parental supervision and the little dog was at their mercy. I don't know if the dog was as up in arms (paws?) as I was but I went around the office trying to get back up to go out and have a confrontation. 
  2. Men without kids. It's just creepy. Especially when they are shirtless. Exception: if they are playing basketball. Worst scenario: they are sitting on a bench just leering. I do always kind of enjoy the gender switch on Friday afternoons, though, when a lot of dads take their kids to the playground. In my mind, I know all of their stories. They are all on their weekend visitation with kids they don't see all week long and they don't really know what else to do with them. 
  3. The metal detector guy. This guy is not necessarily a creep but is definitely odd. What amazing treasure do you expect to find under a plastic swingset? Pokeman cards? (are those even a things, still? ). If a parent lost something like a ring, it's just wood chips-it could be easily relocated and not left behind for a metal detector. And I'm not looking out the window onto an amazingly wealthy neighborhood so I think if I were in search of goodies, I would find a different park.
  4. Kids assaulting one another. This is the most common sight and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I would miss it if it stopped. Before you judge that comment, let me preface that these are not teens brutally beating one another but rather preschool aged kids, usually, pushing each other. It's really interesting to see how it all shakes out. Most often, they have some kind of showdown and moments later run away with each other as if it's already resolved. No intervention. No long talks. Just simple instincts. How great would it be if you could be irritated by someone, act accordingly and then all is well between the two of you? My dream come true. Instead, we have to learn all these feelings words and how to delicately communicate (says the person with a license to practice therapy). 
  5. Children who appear to be lifeless. I know this is a weird one but the park I get to gaze out at has this plastic suspension type bridge. On more than one occasion,  I have seen children laying on this, seemingly injured. I stare at them the way you check if someone is still breathing, waiting for a sign of movement or life. Sometimes, I am amazed how long this kids can  play possum. Or this playing opossum like the car insurance commercial that I love? Either way, they all eventually move before I feel the need to call in first responders; it must just be a really relaxing spot.
    So that's all the insight I can muster into playground etiquette since I haven't used a playground for something that I couldn't potentially be arrested for being caught doing in about 20 years. Want to hear some more first hand accounts? Check out the amazing ladies below and make sure to check back next Thursday for the next theme!
The other participants of Theme Thursday:
I like beer and babies
Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom
A Calibama State of Mind 
The Next Step 


  1. Brilliant! I love your observations and comments on what you see at the playground. And I snorted at the young adult use of the playground - guilty of that myself! Except where I grew up they were called "tot lots" which made it all the worse!

    I think the first responders need a little nudge when it comes to those men without kids and without shirts! yikes! Thanks for being "the eye in the sky" at the playground. Put a big sign in your window one day that says, "I can SEE you!"

  2. Ha, I remember when the wooden playgrounds were huge deals. And the tire ones! My school got a SICK new tire playground when I was there and we all had to wear old clothes for like 2 weeks because the tires marked us up.

  3. I just spit tea on my computer screen - the men without kids and the metal detector guys were my favorite! The stuff you must see from that window of yours!!!!

  4. I love this. Seriously. What a breath of fresh air!! Not to mention that I too, have been laughing hysterically and just spit liquid at the computer screen....

  5. I would have been out there with you to confront the puppy slider (sounds like an awful sandwich) in a heart beat. What were they thinking? I know - they weren't. Men without kids. That is an excellent band name for a bunch of over 40 men in a retro new wave band. I like it! Not in the park though. Creepy. I liked sneaking a peek into your experiences of the park from the past and as an onlooker.