The playground is one of the great equalizers in the world of childhood. It is a safe(ish) venue for kids of all ages to run, jump, dig, climb, swing, and scream. However, for parents it is often the cause of drama and anxiety. What is needed is a set of rules, agreed upon by the majority of the caregivers that frequent these parks. I propose the following five rules be engraved on stone tablets and placed prominently at each park entrance:
1. If a child brings a toy to the playground, then abandons said toy, the toy is then available for others to use until the child either 1- needs it back, or 2- must go home for nap time.
2. If a child is throwing sand, and his caregiver does not notice, other adults nearby are allowed to tell-off the offending child. Seriously, sand in the eye is like little shards of glass fighting to be the first to cut your retina.
3. Rule #2 also applies to hitting, pushing, grabbing, kicking, and other general obnoxious behavior.
4. The mom/nanny who is reading a magazine on the bench while her children play by themselves is not neglectful, she is awesome and we should all inspire to be that cool.
5. Sick children should be kept home, in a quarantine bubble, and forced to lie on the couch until all traces of illness have left the body. That said, the following ailments are exempt: lingering cough, runny nose, pink eye, ear infections, asthma, mild fevers, skin rashes, stomach aches, crankiness, and general antisocial behaviors (also know as toddlerhood).
I expect much push-back on the forums from Rule #5, however I stand by this edict, except the part about the bubble. Here’s the thing, children are little cesspools of germs and bacteria. Once they start crawling, they are always sick, I mean always. If every time little Timmy’s nose starts to drip his mom has to spend the day entertaining him indoors, by the mid afternoon Timmy will be destroying all major furniture and his poor mother will be passed out from banging her head on the wall. Yes, Timmy may have a slightly contagious virus, but the chances of him passing it onto another child who uses the same monkey bars as him, is truly very small. The sun, which shines all year round in our fair city, also acts as a disinfectant, cleansing the swing on which Timmy just sneezed.But, here is the paradox: I hold steadfast all of the above rules… unless my own children are climbing on the play structure. At these times, please kindly take your filthy, sickly children as far away as possible. Oh my god, did that kid just cough five feet from my daughter? Where's my hand sanitizer?