February 19, 2005

Oh No! He's Got A Stick!

Yesterday was the first gorgeous day in a long while, so I put The Baby in the Bjorn and the big kids in the jogging stroller and headed down the street to the park. It was chillier than the sunshine suggested, but still warm enough without jackets.

Thanks to new sidewalks from Public Works, we could walk all the way to the park without going cross country or jaywalking, a definite change for the better.

Shortly after we arrived at the park, another mom and daughter arrived. We chatted for a minute and found out that her daughter and The Girl were almost exactly the same age. The Girl, though, is a tiny thing, and the other child had several inches on her.

What followed was a study, I think, in the difference having three versus one child makes on one's parenting methods and attitude. On the one hand, I sat and cuddled the Baby and left my big kids to their own devices; I hadn't brought them to a park so that I would have to entertain them. So while the Baby and I enjoyed quality time, the big kids swarmed up the ladders and down the slides and back and forth across the field surrounding the playground, yelling, chatting, fighting, the usual.

In contrast, the other mother hovered over her daughter. She helped her up the stairs to the slide, the sprinted back down to the bottom of the slide so that she would be there to catch her daughter when she came down. When her daughter ventured more than six feet off of the playground surface, following my ruffians, she nervously called for her daughter to come back. When her daughter emulated my big kids' simian-like behavior on the ladders and slides, she was subtly but definitely discouraged from following these poor role models.

And then the Boy found weapons. When he pulled a stick out of his pocket, asked the other mom if she liked his "pocket knife," and began running around babbling about how he could sharpen it on a rock, she looked -- concerned. But then he brandished a long stick with a branch for a handgrip. "Look at my machine gun! Ratatatatatat!" he shouted, as he sprayed the playground with invisible bullets.

Although it is to the other mother's credit that she did not immediately flee with her daughter and call DCS, her face became a distinctly uncomfortable -- and sour-looking. Guns! Violence! Male aggression! I felt relieved when the machine gun morphed into a pencil, but then The Girl had to snatch it, declare a sword, and start slicing up her brother.

On the other hand, the two big kids were running, chasing, playing, laughing, and otherwise enjoying a beautiful day, and they weren't even fighting -- all of which somewhat mitigated my parental shame.

The other child saw the same thing I saw and wanted a stick, too. She picked up a tiny twig about the length of a pencil but about as thin as a leaf stem and started running toward the fray. "No!" shrieked her mom. "Be careful with that! Don't hit. Don't run with a stick." Anyone who has spent time with two year olds -- especially the female versions -- will not be surprised to learn that this order was not well-received. The little girl pouted and then -- gasp! -- threw the stick, which flew past my head and landed behind me. I was never in danger, but for this transgression, the little girl got a firm talking-to and time out.

I took this as my cue to move our brood along, before their baleful influence led this little girl further astray and into further trouble.



I don't know if it really is the experience of having three versus one that made that mother seem so neurotic... I think that it may be because of the socially mandated politically correct parenting that seems to rule the world of babydom.

Posted by: Blair at February 19, 2005 06:13 PM

Your kids sound great. I appreciated their abandonement to joy. You and your man must be doing something right.

Your kids had the sticks right, not the stick in the mud. :)

Posted by: Ben at February 19, 2005 06:20 PM

Hey girlfriend...I've changed my blog back to Blogger...too much spam was coming my way, and I couldn't keep up.

The new address is...well, I'll repeat it even though I just typed it in up above!

Posted by: Melissa at February 19, 2005 07:28 PM

Oh slap me upside the head. You already changed it. I need a loooooooooong nap. Forgive my lapse. I forget lots of stuff....like how you posted on the new page this week.

Sheesh. If I'd just count to ten more......well, I figure you understand, being a mom and all. :P

Posted by: Melissa at February 19, 2005 07:32 PM

No problem, Melissa. Never hurts to get a reminder. :)

Posted by: Jordana at February 19, 2005 09:32 PM

*L* Yep, things do tend to get more relaxed the more kids you have. . . That poor Mom--trying to get everything just right.

Sounds like a wonderful day at the park.

I had a cool thought last night. The next time we're in Florida, our kids will all be old enough that I don't have to worry about any of them eating sand! *grin*

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 20, 2005 06:38 AM

last year, lily was playing with a stick (that it was a magic wand) and the thing ended up scratching her eye. i thought it was nothing, but four hours later, as she was still screaming in pain, the eye doctor made an emergency appointment for us. yup. she scratched her eye and had to wear gauze over both eyes for 48 hours. she has since turned into the stick police - warning any child she sees about the dangers of sticks.

the weird thing is that i did the same thing as a kid - scratched my eye (enough that i wear glasses) while i was rummaging in bushes. i just never had the heart to forbid sticks because i have so many happy memories of playing with them.

Posted by: amy at February 20, 2005 08:25 AM

Oh this brought back memories. When Ricky was young, he was almost obsessive about sticks. Everywhere we went, he would find one to carry, play with and bring home. We still have quite a collection of walking "sticks", perhaps 25 or so, in a barrel by the front door.

Posted by: Earth Girl at February 20, 2005 08:31 PM

I just want to say I am *so* jealous of your warm weather.

My kids play with sticks all the time. The best toys are the ones they make up themselves.

Posted by: chris at February 21, 2005 11:17 AM

Oh Amy, poor little one! But accidents happen. I think there is so much fear of accidents that we don't allow kids to be kids and have fun.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at February 22, 2005 07:16 AM

I confess that we were a wee bit nutty when we only had the one - I think this is almost inevitable with first time parents, although it sounds like your companion was overdoing it.

With our three, I'm now at the point that if I don't actually see large amounts of blood or a joint swinging the wrong direction, then everything is fine.

BTW, it was a very nice day in Dee Cee yesterday as well. We booted the kids into the yard with instructions to amuse themselves. At one point, I noticed they had gathered up their plastic sleds and were doing Cresta Runs down the slide.

Posted by: Robert the Llama Butcher at February 22, 2005 08:15 AM