Variety is the spice of life, right? Well in the spirit of spicey variety, I’m introducing the ‘Monday Guest Post Blogger Explosion,’ in which I feature a post every Monday from one of my rock-your-face-off co-bloggers. We’re kicking off this explosion with a post from Meghann Chapman, a dandelion-wishing, hair-styling sorceress, who blogs whimsically and rules benevolently over the Land of Little Girls in the mystical land of Kentucky. Playing with other kids is becoming increasingly more prevalent in our lives, and this kind of stresses me out. I asked Meghann to share her experiences with her beautiful daughter (yes, that’s her in the picture) Lillie, and how she handled them.

Raising a child that loves the outdoors is wonderful. Lilie has absolutely no problem staying outside from the moment her breakfast bowl is empty ‘til the fireflies start to dance (minus a nap).

We mostly just hang out in the backyard and the garage, but several times a week, we venture over to a near by park. I’ve never really been crazy about the big city parks that stay full of kids. So, this quiet, little neighborhood park is perfect.

Our park stays mostly calm. The kids seem to be friendly—most of the time. The parents seem to be attentive, instead of letting their creatures run wild. And it just never gets very crowded.

One thing I’ve noticed, about small parks and crowded parks, is that there is always a general etiquette to follow.

I’ve read a few magazine articles over the years and have done a little research on the matter. There is a lot of advice out there. So, instead of trying to pick out all the “important stuff” and put it all together in one big repeated mess, I’m just going to share my personal experience. I figured if you want the info that’s already out there, you’d already have searched and read it, right?

There’s too much advice out there for me to remember it all. I haven’t followed a lot of advice but I have tried to observe how other parents handle situations and then just do what seems right when its my turn.

Here are a few situations and how I did/would handle them:

-I’m pushing Lilie on the swing and another child comes and asks me to push him/her on the one next to Lilie. Is it rude to say ‘no?’ Would the parent want me to push their child? How familiar am I with the child? Is their parent nearby? Ok, I’m one of those people that over analyzes things. Generally, if its another small child Lilie’s age (three or four-years-old), I push them. Probably not anyone any older.

-Lilie is trying to go down the slide but a kid keeps blocking the way by climbing up the slide backwards. Well, I don’t let Lilie do that, first of all. What do I do? I might let it go the first time. But if its persistent, I go over to the the child (while in action) and firmly, but politely, ask him to take turns and let the others slide down.

-If other children bring a toy or a ball, Lilie doesn’t pass it up on her radar. I try to put myself on the other side. We are supposed to teach our children to share, right? I allow Lilie to play with the toy, as long as no one else is, she treats it with care and the child isn’t in need of it at the time. I don’t think it would be fair for a parent to allow a child to bring a toy to a place full of children and then not allow the toy to be shared. I think this very situation should be more of a lesson in sharing.

-When Lilie is eating something and another child asks if they can have some, I always say ‘no’ and I always feel bad. Now, I know I just raved about sharing, but if you ask me, food is different. There are too many reasons not to share: food allergies, diet issues, digestion problems, routines. I know if I just have problems making Lilie eat her meals, I sure don’t want anyone giving her snacks. I don’t want to take a chance on causing any problems, and I think this one could be serious.

Ok, so I’ve shared four scenarios and how I, personally, have/would handle them. But like I said in a previous post about dealing with other children, it’s really a judgment call. It’s hard to draw out a black and white line for right and wrong because there are so many different parenting styles.

So, here’s my advice when it comes to playground etiquette: just stay calm, and try to make your best decision. Put yourself in the other parent’s shoes. What would you want someone to do when dealing with your child?

To sum everything up, I want to leave you with a great quote I found. This woman seems to word it best:

The Mommy Code. If I’m standing near the slide and a little guy gets scared and needs help down, I’ll help him. You’d help him, too. If I see some big kids being rough or wild near a little kid, I’ll say: “Hey dudes! Remember there are little guys around, OK?” So why is it there are some people who will see a kid fall off a swing and just stand there, dispassionately observing, like “Hmmm… Interesting… It fell down and now it cries…” Seriously? You’re a mom. Do the right thing, woman.”
-Lydia B.
Rants from Mommy

What about you and your neck of the woods? How would you describe the playground etiquette you’ve observed in your area? What are some do’s and don’ts you abide by?