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You can learn a lot from a trip to the park…and you may want a Frosty by the end of this post

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April 13, 2013 by vlittle528

In between responding to “hey mom, watch, mom…mom….mom, look at me, mom, watch this” every two seconds, I enjoy spending park time people watching. It is quite interesting the things you can observe while hidden behind a pair of sunglasses. In fact, if you spend a little time watching, you may even learn a few things. For example;

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Some parents just don’t get it: I watched a little boy stare wistfully as I pushed my kids on the swings, glancing back at his mom and pointing to the last swing. She kept telling him no, not now. That his grandparents didn’t walk all the way to the park just to push him in the swing, that they wanted to watch him play (really?). So he played on his belly on the swing for a little while before he walked back over to his mom and climbed in her lap. He sweetly said “I just want to give you a hug”, to which she responded “I don’t need a hug right now, go play.” I almost walked up to that little kid myself to give him a hug. Afternote: as I was about to publish this, I was telling my husband the story and he goes “but pushing kids on the swings is the only thing grandparents are good for at the park!”

Kids ARE paying attention to if you are paying attention to them: Apparently the railings on the stairs were a heck of a lot more fun than the actual slides at the park. Whatever-it was a calculated risk. Let the kids have some fun. The same little kid from above had gone over to my son and wanted to try, too. His mom told him no. So my son and him walked away a bit further to roll down the hill. I heard my son say “okay, go ahead, your turn”. The little boy told him to wait, he couldn’t because his mom was watching him. The second she looked away, the little stinker ran over to the stairs and slid down the railing. I will admit I chuckled.

Kids are desperate for independence while simultaneously craving your attention: Mixed in with all the giggles, yells and screams at the playground, the sentence you will hear most often from every kid is “watch me, watch me!” Yet, they all seem to want to run off or walk around the path by themselves, and as soon as they start going you hear them demand “stop looking at me”. It’s going to be a long 20 years from here on out, kids.

Some parents are freaking crazy-or maybe I am too overprotective: Usually it is pretty easy to tell which kids belong to which parents, but at one point of this particularly long park day (I was feeling a bit sentimental and needed some fresh air and time with my kids after hearing that my friend from the previous post had passed away the day after being taken off life support), everyone had left except us and the poor little kid from the beginning of this post. All of a sudden, there were two tweens doing awesome tricks but scaring the crap out of me-like backflips over the benches and “skip roping” the swings-and there were two other little girls that were about six and seven that appeared from nowhere. While I enjoyed watching the tweens and telling my children they better never attempt to do flips around the top of the swing set, I didn’t pay much attention to the girls as they were playing off by themselves. Until I heard the older one look at her watch and declare that they only had five minutes left. I kind of glanced around, but then figured maybe they lived in the house right across the street and their parent could see them from the house. Until those five minutes were up and I saw them walk a significant way up the street until they were out of sight. Too many news stories flashed through my head. Too many missing children posters, too many horror stories until I remembered that Austin Sigg just pleaded not guilty and my mind couldn’t take any more.

Not all teens are bad: I know, I know, shocker right? Not that I am biased against teens, I know some pretty awesome ones. But I have had my fair share of negative experiences enjoying an afternoon and then having the park overtaken by a bunch of rowdy and rude teenagers with nothing better to do than smoke cigarettes, curse and run over the little kids. Anywho (btw, did you know that is now in the dictionary? Random fact for your enjoyment), soon another boy joined the tweens. They were discussing what they wanted their “routine” to be, and then they went to practice jumping off the swings and landing on the cement. My own kids were finishing up their independent walk around the park and my heart stopped as I could see what was about to happen. The boys were going to jump off and crash into my kids. Until the third boy yelled “STOP STOP STOP! THERE ARE KIDS COMING!” Later, one of the other boys scolded his brother when he didn’t scoot over far enough when a little kid was trying to get by him on the stairs. I had overheard some grandparents talking about “hoodlums”-yes that word was actually used. These kids weren’t doing anything except very possibly costing their parents a nice hospital bill collection. They were far from hoodlums. Afternote #2, my husband (talkative fella tonight, isn’t he?) told me that this is Parkour or Freerunning, different but similar activities so I don’t know which they were actually doing.

And possibly the most important thing I learned…

Bring a Frosty and fries and everyone will tell you how they eat them: Yep. I, myself, am a dunker. I was thoroughly enjoying dunking my fries in my Frosty in the park, and from this simple act  I now know that of the six people who walked by me, four are dunkers and two are not. The wife of a dunker seemed particularly irritated. She does not understand how people could like soggy fries. I didn’t take the time to tell her that if you are taking so long they get soggy you are doing it wrong. And now you are craving a frosty aren’t you?

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