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Saturday, September 15, 2007

playing nice

Run, jostle, scream, scud, crawl, climb, slide down, plunge, hustle, crowd, scramble, bleat, squeal, amble, scurry, skip, jump.


It is indeed fun to watch the wee ones going about their business of being, well, wee, in the play ground.

Now, I rarely go to the mall, and when I do, I take Ana to the bookstore that she knows like the back of her palm, so much so that when we get there she makes a beeline for the kids' section and picks out the books she wants to read in the first round, and then we hurry back straight home when we are done.

But, last evening, knowing D will be late, plus the weather being chilly, I decided to take Ana to the little kids' Indoor Play Area in the mall so I can sit back, catch my breath after a long work week, and organize the tasks in my head for Ganesha Chathurthy the next day, after our session at the bookstore.

This particular play area is for little kids say infants upto toddlers - the right kind for Ana and younger ones. The posted rules clearly indicate the area is for kids 42" and under, and please no shoes, no food or drinks, and no kids should be left unsupervised there. All well and good. For the safety of all the tiny tots, naturally. Except, it only works when every single parent there follows the same posted rules.

When I took Ana in, it was boisterous and crowded, and I was hesitant to add to the melee. But, her heart was set on the slide that looks like a tree and so, I took her shoes off and planted her on the carpet, allowing her to get acclimatized and venture out to play when she felt ready.

She mustered her courage, waited her turn, but, there were big kids - over 42" easily - running around and around, leaping up the 3 or 4 little steps up to the top of the slide and rushing down, only to do it again, and not allowing others to get in.

So, I nudged Ana on to go sit on the little turtle, which seemed less popular among that rambunctious crowd. She patiently waited her turn, and when it was empty, promptly climbed on, turned back, looked at me triumphantly and I was all agog, smiles and cheers, when one of the boys running around noisily jumped on top of the turtle ignoring Ana's presence and almost knocked her down.

Well, almost. So, I figured, no harm done, she is fine, she needs to learn to play among other kids - preferably her own age and size, but, Life is not always like that, and we do what we can. I didn't want to be an over-protective mommy, although the crowd there seemed unruly enough that the Teacher in me took over and wanted me to remind them that we always try to Play Nice. [Yes, indeed, I used to teach college kids, but, college kids are usually just overgrown babies, in my experience anyway, with a few exceptions, like yours truly ;-) ].

And then, seeing a subtle lull around the slide, Ana clambered up the steps and braced herself, to position herself correctly in order to slide down on her butt, when all of a sudden an-easily-4-plus-yr-old boy leapt up from behind, pushed her down, sending Ana headfirst down the slide!!

I was appalled! Nobody noticed it and reminded him not to do that!! No adult! I was expecting his parent to supervise and teach him not to do that. So, I took matters into my own hands and suggested, "We don't push, OK?", "Let's wait our turn..."

I rushed around and picked up the bewildered Ana and checked to make sure she was OK. When caught unawares, wee ones can't right themselves and prevent hurting themselves badly... Anyway, thankfully, she recovered after a few minutes of hugs and kisses, and although she kept pointing to her head repeating, "Owwie", I didn't see any visible bumps.

So, I parked her on my lap for a bit on the sofa arranged on the inside perimeter of the play area, along the walls.

Right then, one of the mommies walked in with hot dogs and ice cream, parked herself next to me and called out to her two boys - one of whom was the one who just pushed Ana down the slide!!

I mean!! Not only does this mom leave her older boys in a kids play area, she leaves them unsupervised, and brings back food into the play area!

Now, all were not that way, but it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the barrel...

The mom to my left was ever-vigilant, and when her boy almost stepped on a crawling wobbling baby, she called out to him, insisted that he stop, come to her "NOW!", so she can talk to him. She held him in a hug and explained to him that when there are little ones he should be extra careful. I really admired the way she explained to him. Didn't yell at him, didn't accuse him of bad behavior, just reminded him to Play Nice.

The action got a little out of control for me, and I was just too tired after a long day at work, so, I packed up Ana and wandered out of the play area. It is indeed a shame when parents don't teach their children right from wrong.

Now, I do not believe that a child is inherently bad or good, normally. Of course there are exceptions - I was reading about this frightful condition called Attachment Disorder where a child could potentially not develop Empathy, the all-powerful emotion needed to turn on the little voice in our heads that is our Conscience... I am digressing, more on that in another post...

Anyway, I believe every child starts out good. They learn behaviors as they grow. I believe there are desirable behaviors that equate to good, and undesirable behaviors that equate to bad. I believe in this as it gives me Hope, it convinces me that the world is a good place to begin with. And I believe as parents, we have a huge responsibility of identifying and explaining undesirable behavior to our kids as they grow up, and discourage them effectively, else we'll have half the world becoming bullies and the rest attempting to play Fair and Nice quite fruitlessly...

Anyway, I was pretty fuming when I related this to D, when in his characteristic way he offered a solution:"Call the mall security next time this happens"!!

Ha!! I am not the kind to bring a sledgehammer to crack a peanut. I prefer attempting a peaceful and non-confrontational solution. But, at times, some mommies take such offense to another parent even suggesting something nice to their children, especially when they are not doing their part in the first place, that it makes me not want to bother anymore... I would be glad if another mommy tells Ana not to be a bully, if ever they catch her being one before I do that is! It is a Community that raises a happy, healthy child...

I just needed to get this off my system. So there! Done!

Am off to get things ready for Ganesha Chathurthy...

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At 7:00 AM, Blogger DotMom said...

happens at the tot in our mall all the time... I do intervene at times, but most of the times, I leave my 2 yr old to handle the bigger kids himself..

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

hi dotmom, i believe the intervention is critical when it involves safety of the child - any child - because wee ones are not equipped physically to tackle bigger/older kids; however, if they are squabbling over a toy or whose turn it is to go next, well, let them sort it out on their own, absolutely.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger d said...

i put in my 2 bit on the topic in the comment section of the link below.

since this is a topic after my own heart and i so agree with you i feel its my moral duty to connect all mothers who are saying the same thing!


At 6:53 AM, Blogger the mad momma said...

ah... i see what you meant. you can imagine my plight when kids are taught to hit and whack in the name of fun wrestling. thank goodness you are not here.


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