Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Rant on Bad Parenting at the Mall Play Area

I know it's winter, and the playgrounds are covered in ice and children are going stir crazy. I didn't expect the new play area in our renovated mall to be empty. I knew it would be crowded and it was. It was our first time seeing the new space, and it was disappointingly much smaller than the old, so the kids were all over each other. That's fine when the kids are a bunch of 2 to 4 year olds, climbing and falling all over the place and each other. What I don't understand is why parents blatantly ignore the rules of the Mall Play Area (not to mention polite society), which are clearly stated on the big sign right where you enter
  • Children must be under 42 inches tall to play here.
  • Children are required to be supervised by an adult at all times.
So no, Mr. Dad on the Cell Phone ignoring your child, your nearly 5 foot tall approximately 11 year old daughter should not have been playing there. Nor should she have been bullying the little kids as she fought her way to the top of the slide. Nor should she have been pushing toddlers out of her way! That's right, pushing 2 year olds, including mine. Now Oliver barely noticed, but I did, and I made sure to say something to her directly in front of her father, who continued chatting on his phone, noticing nothing. I was polite. I simply said, "Don't you dare push my child again." Ok, so maybe I wasn't polite so much as I was a pissed off mother. She didn't care. She kept running around, jumping in front of the kids to get on the equipment before they could, and not letting them on. Then a gang of 3 boys, not as obviously bigger as she was, but definitely also over the height limit, sat on the top of the slide, blocking the way of the 20 or so toddlers all scrambling to get up. Again, no parental involvement. I couldn't even tell who their parents were. I don't get it. Do these parents ignore the sign that states the rules? Are they even capable of reading? At best, perhaps they misread it to think it means the kids have to be over 42 inches?

I don't understand it. Whenever I allow Oliver to play in a play area, or playground, or wherever, I never take my eyes off him. Not only to watch for his safety, but to make sure he's not behaving rudely to others. I simply cannot understand the mentality of a parent who can sit ignoring their child talking on the cell phone. Not even a glance to notice how poorly she was behaving, or worse, if he did notice, he didn't care. Because that conversation was obviously more important than his child. Even if I get on my phone, I still never take my eyes off my child, and intervene when needed. What makes me even angrier is not that this happened today, but that something like this happens almost every single time we go to a mall play area. And not to bash dads, because honestly, it's usually the moms ignoring their kids, and sadly, often the nannies. Marty worries about germs, I worry about broken bones. Not an irrational fear. The granddaughter of one of our friends had her arm severely broken when an older boy fell on top of her at a mall play area. There is a reason they have rules like the height limit; it is dangerous to the little kids, the ones the play areas were designed for.

I'd finally had enough. Marty had been shopping while I watched Oliver, and when he joined us, I said loudly enough for the Cell Phone Dad and many of the other parents to hear, "We have to go. It isn't safe with these older kids bullying the little ones." Unfortunately, Oliver is a toddler, and toddlers don't liked to be pulled away from their favorite activities suddenly. He threw the worst tantrum ever, kicking and screaming, trying to go back to the play area. We couldn't even get his shoes back on. I'm sure we were drawing the attention of everyone in the mall, who were questioning our parenting since we couldn't control our child. He's strong! You try to keep him in your arms when he doesn't want to be!! And when he's that mad, his screams are like the growls of a caged animal. Finally, I told him if he didn't calm down, he wouldn't be able to go to the play area the next time we went to the mall, and that helped a little. So we'll go back, not that I want to, but I know he enjoys it, and the playgrounds are still covered with snow. But bad parents be forewarned: I will be watching you and your evil children, and you don't want to be on the wrong end of the tantrum I'll have if something happens to my child. So please read the freakin' sign and follow the rules! Don't make me call that mall cop!

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