When Owl was around one year old, he began to enjoy slides.
The local mall has a slide that is nicely baby-sized, so we started him on that one. From the beginning we taught him basic slide safety/etiquette which is, of course, that you must always go around and go back up via the ladder, and not back up the slide itself.
This is basic etiquette, isn’t it?
I have begun to wonder, because we are apparently the only parents IN THE WORLD who enforce it.
I am probably exaggerating because my friend Pug Mama also enforces this basic requirement when we have visited slides with our children, and I assume that my other friends do as well with their children. But that’s because I have awesome taste in friends.
Everyone else in the world seems to think it is TOTALLY FINE for their kid to spend five minutes trying to climb the wrong way up the slide, while other children line up on top with feet pointed at the rogue child’s head.
Then, of course, Owl starts imitating the behaviour. PH or I immediately swoop in and correct him and Owl goes back to his law abiding ways. Sometimes the other parent would become aware that my one year old was better behaved than their three year old and would suddenly start enforcing the rule, which no doubt confused the kid completely.
Sometimes, that doesn’t even happen.
A few weeks ago Owl was at that same slide and had quite an altercation with two little bruisers with buzz cuts. One looked about Owl’s age and the other was three or so. They were both climbing up the slide while Owl sat on top of the slide poised to go down and said in an increasingly annoyed voice, “Excuse me. Excuse me! EXCUUUUUSE ME! NO!! GO ‘WAY!!!!!”
He began poking at their eyes, which I put a stop to instantly, but I felt bad, because after all, he was in the right. But if we poked out people’s eyes whenever they broke the rules, we’d have a lot of fun, but probably end up in prison.
The parent of the two kids, by the way, was watching with pleasant-faced bemusement throughout all this. I would have said something but I didn’t know she was the kids’ mother, since she was watching with pleasant-faced bemusement.
It was only when Owl and the up-sliders began to engage in a battle to the death on the top of the slide that she redirected her kids, who were back and going up the slide again within five minutes and the mother just shrugged at me like “Ehn, what else can I do?”
I was tempted to tell Owl to slide down anyway and kick those kids in the face.
It’s not only a problem at the mall.
The local indoor play gym has big signs up everywhere about NOT CLIMBING UP THE SLIDES, often in quick succession and merely phrased in different ways so as to try and penetrate people’s thick skulls. It doesn’t seem to make a difference. Parents stand around and smile indulgently while their kids struggle up the slide going the wrong way. Last time I tried to embarrass the parents into action. Owl pointed at the kids going up the slide and screeched “Mommy, YOOK!”
“Yeah, they’re breaking the rules. Never mind what they do. YOU go around,” I said to him loudly. The group of watching parents didn’t even blink.
I suppose I could be a douche and point out to the parents that their kids are getting in the way of everyone else’s kids AND endangering themselves in the process, but it’s none of my business and I’m not naturally confrontational.
So beyond the occasional passive aggressive comment, I just watch in bewilderment.
I just don’t get it.
It’s one thing if your kid is nine years old in a deserted playground, and able to understand the difference between sharing a busy piece of playground equipment and enjoying having the slide all to yourself.
But in a busy play park packed with self absorbed toddlers?
Even if you don’t believe in etiquette, even if you want your child to be a rebel and explore playground equipment in novel ways, even if you don’t think that your kids should have to learn turn-taking or follow posted rules…
…don’t you worry that a descending child will torpedo your kid in the face?
…Or am I the only one?