Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I did NOT go to the park to realize

Let me tell you right up front that when I announced to my younger children that we could go to the park tonight, it was with mainly selfish motives. We made the soccer practice drop-off, and headed over to the playground with almost 90 minutes of "wait time" ahead of us. I brought my reading material for May along, and even some apples and a water bottle. That's right; kids play, mom reads. My days of trailing toddlers through the equipment are OVER. After almost 18 years of following, I'm feeling more than ready to take up my new position: on the bench. And this is how it went down.

I settled myself in a very central location, knowing that even though I was about to completely lose myself in a novel, I could still be available, should something need watching or should someone require a little cheering on. I even refused to get up to help my own flesh across the monkey bars. No way. I was letting my guard down. Indulgence in the form of fresh air reading. With happy-children-playing noises in the background.

I should have known better. Once you commit to this thing called motherhood, is there really a moment when you can totally let the guard completely fall? I know I read at least a few paragraphs. I have no idea what they said. My radar was honing in on a major distraction: adolescent pubescent tweens. They were using most of the swings and camping out on one of the slides. At first I thought I could deal with it. My radar became the glare of a hawk. I was taken aback by some of the posturing, physical inuendo and general behavior of two of the people on the slide. I felt my glare intensifying, and I wanted to burn a message into their 12 or 13 year old brains: Someone's mother is watching you. They weren't receiving it. I found myself becoming irritated at their seeming indifference. Preschool age children were having to avoid the slide, because the tweens were oblivious to the fact that they were in the way. Not only were they in the way, they were on display. I tried to look the other way. I tried not to care. I couldn't do it. I wanted to know if they would be doing the same things or saying the same things if it wasn't me there at the park; if it were one of their parents instead. I wanted to follow them home and ask their parents if they were alright with what was going on while they weren't watching. Actually, I became so torqued-up about it, I couldn't sleep after getting into bed tonight. My thoughts spilled-over from the playground to the school bus. To recess. To environments that I cannot control, or in many cases, even see. It was intimidating. The tiny forces of a parent, versus the enormous influence of the world. I had to get out of bed and seek something comforting. I opened this month's Ensign magazine to an article called "Gifts to Help Us Navigate Our Life." It was a good beginning.

Back at the park? In a voice that was as controlled as I could make it, I asked them to move so the kids could use the slide. They weren't quick and they weren't even polite about it. Female tween gave me a crusty stare. Honestly? I didn't care. I wanted to say SO much more, but knew that it would have fallen on deaf ears. What I DID say (later to my husband) was that I now know that I will NEVER be able to let my guard down at the playground. And I'm okay with that.

9 comments:

Swimmingmom said...

Fantastic post, Jenny. I often feeljealous at the park when I see parents who are able to have a bit of reprieve because their children aren't too young. Looks like there really never is a reprieve. I would have eventually asked those kids to move too. Funny how people forget who the park is intended for. I often wonder about the school bus when my children get into school and I shudder to think to much! It's a tough world out there, but so great to have mothers who teach correct principles. You can only hope your own children make correct choices in in those moments when surrounded by peers.

Smilin' sunshine said...

Yet again, another great post. I often feel like you did. I wonder where all these kids parents are. It is sad that kids are allowed to do raunchy things and in public no less and then don't give a flyin fig when someone says something to them.

Lack of respect. There is no respect anymore. Sad...

Aaron H. said...

Run away! Run away!

Jo Jo said...

So sad to see the world influence children like that. We will always watch over our flock, and then again when they have their own little flock.

LL said...

ewwww. icky rotten tweens. I too cringe at the thought of what goes on. Things our kids see, and we can't protect them from.
Glad you spoke up...hope you were eventually able to sleep!

shirlgirl said...

You are right, you cannot take your eyes off the children. I don't know what is the matter with tweens today--they have no respect for anyone or anything. Makes me crazy. I am in awe of how you and your siblings have brought up and are still bringing up your children. They are so respectful and loving. You should be proud.

Miranda said...

This is a great post Jenny! I found myself speeding through to hear what happened. Glad you wrote this all down!

What book are you reading?

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I'm such a middle school teacher; my radar goes into overdrive whenever I'm around tweens. Or teens for that matter. If I even suspect rude behavior and there is no parent to be seen, I'm always happy to intervene. Good for you, Mom.

smart mama said...

I am never relaxed at the park - maybe because my child crawled under a hole int he fence last time and tried to eat rocks- you're a good mom jenny w!