I remember it well, my smugness. The way I’d look at those outrageously misguided children and wonder why their mothers hadn’t taught them any better. I’d flash them a stern look, maybe shout a passive-aggressive, “That’s right Big, we go up the ladder and down the slide!”
These kids? Well, as far as I was concerned, they were monsters.
First of all, they were big. No, huge! There was no question they had the strength to flatten any number of precious little people. They were a threat to everyone around them what with their climbing up and over, as they tested the limits of playground equipment and rules and basic manners.
But even worse, they moved with outrageous speed and dexterity—with no apparent concern for gravity or grip. Who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to climb up the outside of a tunnel slide in flip flops? Only a monster, of course.
Well, this past Saturday, I heard, “No honey, you don’t get to climb on top of that. It’s big and slippery, and very dangerous. You could fall and get hurt!” I knew that voice, that tone. They were mine, from years ago.
It wasn’t until I looked over with an understanding smile that I realized the horrible, terrible, monstrous influences were my very own kids. And worse? I wasn’t one bit alarmed by what they were doing. But, having been in that mother’s shoes, I went over and explained to my kids that they needed to be leaders, to show little kids the correct way to use the equipment.
The other mother looked at me—with a combination of exasperation and gratitude on her face. And I put a friendly, apologetic look on mine.
Because I get it. I get where she was coming from, and I have a new understanding of where I am now. You see, even I have climbed on the outside of slippery situations in flip flops at this point. Not because I didn’t know better, but because having a few extra years of courage and strength have given me the ability to gain better footing, to know the risks, and to take them anyway. I’ve experienced more ups, overs, and limit testing than I can quantify in my almost 9 years of parenting experience.
And parents of older kids, and those kids themselves? They’re not so bad after all. They’re just a bit more capable, trusting, and curious than they were when they explored that very same place years ago. And as a mom, watching your kids conquer new challenges and maneuver with confidence is just as thrilling as they get older as it was when they were toddlers. Because while it might seem like they don’t know their physical limits or the rules, the truth is they finally do.
So while my big kids may slip now and then (heck, don’t we all?), they’re definitely not creatures to be feared. At the city park, or anywhere for that matter.
But those monsters walking through town when high school’s dismissed? Well, that’s another story.
I can TOTALLY relate since my kids are/have been those high school monsters.
Amy, Using Our Words says
Ha! I hope you know, Doni, I obviously don’t think high school kids are monsters. It’s just funny how with each stage of motherhood/childhood, you have a new-found respect for the things that intimidated you before you got there.
Oh wow, this is so true. I have a 10yo and a 3yo. Big gap. So my 3yo has waaaay more leeway now than my 10yo did at her age. Climb up the slide? Sure. Hang from the high monkey bars? Yup.
And you’re exactly right about those high school kids. I can assure you that *my* kids won’t act like them 😉
Amy, Using Our Words says
Oh, I know Kim! I should have mentioned…one of the monsters was my 3yo. Oops.
Hi Amy, I’m new here. I, too, have monsters on the playground, nine-and-a-half-year-old twin boys. I get a lot of dirty looks as I let them climb and be wild as the younger kids watch in wonder. One woman said something to me about it once saying she’d really rather my boys not show her kids things that they aren’t supposed to do. I thought about suggesting to her a handout of her rules so we could all know them, and abide by them. I didn’t. As you said, I understood her discomfort and calmed my monsters a bit. Mostly though, my sons are polite, inclusive, energetic, cute as all get out monsters, though they are a little wild.
I very much like your site and what you have to say. So many bloggers seem unsure in their writing, that is not the case her. I’ll be back. Peace to you.
Amy, Using Our Words says
What a lovely comment. Thank you so much for your kind words about my writing.
Yes, I agree that kids can have a lot of energy and do things that may look bad…even though they’re not. Raising kind kids with good manners is so much more important than worrying about them climbing up the down staircase, I think. It sounds like you’ve got your monsters in just the right spot. Here’s to you!
Jennifer Pitt says
Hi Amy! I nominated you for a One Lovely Blog Award. I don’t normally do these things, but I thought this is a great way to give a shout out to some of my favourite blogs. You can see my post on mine! It’s not a push for you to participate – do or don’t! 🙂 Happy Friday!