Sunday, 17 February 2013

All play and no fun

So, playgroup. A minefield of potential hazards, parenting philosophies and social awkwardness. I go because it's good for M. I guess. Social interaction with other kids and all that. It's also good for me. I guess. Making friends and all that lark. It's just that I find it excruciating. 

The first week we attended M somehow managed to fall off a chair and hit his head, twice: once on the corner of the table, then again on the way down as his forehead made contact with the concrete. Welcome to us! We need first aid! What a sparkling first impression we made.

If I'm not trying to protect him from further head injuries, I'm trying to keep him from being mown down by older children zooming around on wheels. Some kids will stop and offer an impatient "Beep beep!" before going on their merry way. Others won't. Little fingers get slammed in play kitchen cupboard doors and drawers. Little feet still getting used to shoes trip over plastic dinosaurs. It feels as though there are a million dangers lurking around every corner and in every toy box. 

I know what you're going to say: it's important for him to be able to explore his world. I can't protect him from everything and I shouldn't try. Well, get lost. I hate that he could get hurt at any moment by any one of a myriad of hazards, including other children. I can't stand it. 

Then there are the other parents. Everyone has a different approach to raising their children. If my child and someone else's clash over Thomas, what is the etiquette? My instinct is to model 'good sharing' regardless of who had it first, which means the other child gets the toy whilst M shakes with frustration. Is that really 'good sharing', or am I simply projecting my need to cause as little inconvenience to others as possible on to my son? If another child (known to be rough) hits mine but the parent doesn't notice and it probably didn't hurt, what is the etiquette? Remove my crying boy and pretend it didn't happen, distracting him with a plastic dinosaur? 

There are no guidelines. I have to make it up as I go along. Just because I'm a grownup doesn't mean I understand any of these social dynamics. I find myself making dozens of decisions a day without having the experience or knowledge to back them up. I can see myself responding to M's "But why?" in years to come with a predictable "Because I said so", which of course really means, "I have no idea why, but you put me on the spot and now I have to stick with my original decision lest you think me inconsistent, which I suspect would be a far greater crime. You'll thank me when you're older".

Maybe I should just stay home. I'm sure my little boy will be capable of inventing as many imaginary friends as necessary to make up for it.

photo credit: clogsilk via photopin cc

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