Aaron and Jeff are now old enough to go to the playground and enjoy more and more of the equipment. We've been going to the park for a while and they can do more than just sit in the swing. While we were in New York we went to the park once or even twice a day. I have to talk a little bit about what I call "Playground Culture."
I am a little saddened by some of the encounters I have had on the playground. My boys are only 18 months old and don't understand what they can and can't touch. Sometimes they look at another child's toy and point to it or try to touch it. On many occassions a young child yells "No! That's MINE!" I tell the boys that the toy isn't ours and explain to the older kids that my children are little and don't understand. The other kids sometimes give me a dirty look or run away to get away from my kids.
I know that children at the playground often don't want to share their toys with strangers. I get it. That's part of their development. What makes me sad is that their parents don't ever step in and tell the child not to yell at an 18 month old for just looking at their toy. I feel like that's a good time to teach kids it's OK to share and to be nice to kids who are younger.
In Chicago we did meet a wonderful mom and her daughter who was probably about two or three years old. My kids were fascinated by a little pail and shovel and the mom let my kids use the toys. She even walked away to play in another area of the playground and trusted us with her toys. In New York my boys were playing on a playground when a four and a half year old came along who was patient as my kids hesitated at the top of a big slide. The little boy waited, patiently, while my boys decided if they could conquer the twisty slide and was careful as he ran by them on the bridges. I got to talking with his mother and told her how respectful he was playing around two little boys.
As my kids grow up and become the bigger, rowdier, wilder kids I hope that I teach them to be kind to babies, share their toys with other children, and apologize if they mistreat someone. I can't expect them to be perfect all of the time, but I can try to teach them some lessons while on the playground.