I was at the kids’ park playground the other day having a good ol’ time swinging, checkin’ out the twisty slides, and enjoying the sun. My daughter was there, too, and we were having a great time. Another cute couple arrived, a momma and her son. I’m all about my daughter being social but she’s at an age where she is always looking for friends. I mean EVERYTHING in her beautiful, innocent world is a potential friend, maybe even a stop sign if she wanted to (adorable!). Of course she wanted to say hello to the couple and sadly they did not reciprocate. Then the little boy went so far as to throw water at her when she was in his vicinity and his mom chose to be, what I like to call, a PPYP (a passive play yard parent).
You know the one I’m talking about: the parent who chooses to sit outside of the play area and yell at their kids while they are on the play structure instead of being active with them. Not only did it make my daughter upset it also put me in a bit of pickle—was I supposed to speak to the mom and say, “hey stranger, your child should work on being nice to my innocent mini-me”? Or should I just continue playing with my daughter to distract her from the fact that, in life, there will be the occasional jerk at the kids’ playground? Perhaps I should ask Ontario parks to post a list on kids getting bullied and how to play nicely at the playground for all to see so that we are all on the same page. In the end, we cut our play time short, which meant the little boy was left to play on his own and that made me kind of sad, too. My daughter and I learned a lesson that day—it can be tough making new friends (no matter what the age) and hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to find some other couples who frequent the kids playground and share the same ideas regarding play time, sharing, and being nice to others.
Now that I am learning all of these new rules and tips about being a parent, I am really seeing just how naïve I was about this whole parenting business. There is a whole crazy world out there that I feel completely unprepared for. Not only am I helping to mold my daughter into a reasonable human being, but I am also gaining all sorts of new insights about making friends myself!
I worry constantly that my daughter will be too much like me, labelled with, “does not play well with others” by primary teachers. (To this day my mom, and now my husband, still laugh at this.) As I grew up, that statement became inaccurate. I grew into a friendly person, my job requires that of me—that’s what customer service is all about. As a child, I was just more introverted, my parents weren’t worried about it and I am not going to worry about it either. If my daughter wants to read and play on her own I’m not going to stop her and hopefully there will be few instances in her young life where people don’t want to have her around.
As a parent, I didn’t realize that I would also have to make new friends, remind myself how to play nicely with others, and remember how to share. I am going to have to put more effort into looking for friends who are also parents, and I’m going to have to learn to share my daughter’s time, too. As adults, we forget that we are going to have to interact with other parents and, since I’m a full-time stay at home mom, I am really going to have to try harder. It’s different when you’re at work—you can’t just run away or throw sand when you don’t feel like interacting with others. At the kids playground, I sometimes find myself a little lost, but I have to start somewhere so. . . Hi, my name is Ainsley. Wanna come out to play?
I would love to hear more about how you interact with other parents and neighbours at the kids playground or elsewhere; any advice you can share about making friends or how I can find likeminded parents would be awesome!
About the Author
Ainsley Gelder was welcomed into the Mabel community back in 2012 – ready for a new job and pregnant the Team welcomed her (and her bump) with loving arms and now they can’t get rid of her! You may recognize her voice from communicating with her through the Customer Service Department, she’s here to answer questions or to chat about labels and loves to laugh. Ainsley is crazy for a good DIY Project on Pinterest and spending time with her family, she especially loves spending time reading books with her toddler and having dance parties in the living room.
You can find her on Twitter @ainsleyisdancin