Friday, April 4, 2008

Climbing up the One-Way Street

As I overheard a grandma in the McDonald's Playland this afternoon (well, actually, it was still morning; something that I feel guilty about every Thursday in between music and pre-school), I was reminded of a memorable and lively discussion that took place at Chaw Headquarters a few weeks back. With hundreds and hundreds of emails exchanged every day now for well over 2 years, there have been many memorable and lively discussions there. And, although the great slide debate didn't cause any casualties (did it?), there were a few noses bent out of joint. Who would have known?

"No, Sarah, you can't climb up the slide like that. Sarah. You are NOT to climb up the slide.", grandma repeated a few times before going to get Sarah and removing her from the bottom of the Playland slide. I kinda smiled to myself because a) it reminded me of the Chaw discussion recently (and that always makes me smile!), b) there were no other children anywhere on the entire play structure and c) that used to be me. Now, I was sitting back and seeing it differently.

Do you let your kid climb up the slide?

If you do, were you aware that not only are there a HUGE number of mothers out there who DO NOT EVER permit their kids to climb up the slides, but those mothers hate you? That's right. We look down on those mothers who let their kids monopolize the slide. You clearly don't care what havoc your kids are creating out there in the world, while you're sitting there gabbing. We look down on your kids because they're obviously bullies who are unclear how to properly play with slides at the playground, but are empathetic towards them at the same time because they are only a product of you, the careless parent.

Did you know about this?!!?

My mom spent years and years in the junior school playground and she says that "the worst thing that parents can let their kids do is climb up the slide." I believed her. She had first-hand experience.

Clearly, climbing up the slide is wrong.
So, although S.Rube is only 3.5, her first few feeble attempts at climbing up the slide were met with my stern disapproval.

And then the conversation came up in Chawville and I stated my case, along with another (favoUrite) Chaw. And we were met with shock and surprise and confusion by the careless parents. They had no idea that there was a rule about not climbing up the slide. They had no idea that it was the worst thing they could be letting their kids do. In fact, these careless moms really had no idea that climbing up the slide or not climbing up the slide was even at issue.

Unanimously, we all agreed that climbing up the slide could be dangerous if not done with awareness of other kids coming down the slide, but not likely any more or less dangerous than any of the other climbing apparatuses in the playground. In fact, in a study of the number of hospital room visits from playground injury, climbing up the slide ranked so low, it didn't exist on the scale.

All of this got me thinking. really thinking.
Why did I hold this "no climbing up the slide" value?

I came up with a whole bunch of reasons:
1) My mom told me so. (don't know why I chose to believe this one, when I spit out so many others though)
2) I live within a box. My laid-back facade is just that - a facade. Rules and structure (no matter how ridiculous) are necessary.
3) It might be dangerous if someone was coming down.
4) Only out-of-control bullies with careless moms climb up the slide.
5) Because I heard other moms telling their kids not to do it.
6) Because my daughter is the shy, scared one at the top that won't speak up for herself to tell the bully to move.
7) A slide is meant for sliding down, not climbing up.
8) Because that is the rule at school. ( so it MUST be important!)
9) Because my kids can't generalize or understand when it would be okay and when it wouldn't be okay.
10) A black & white rule is better (and easier) than shades of gray.

I asked B.Rube about it when he got home because I was so confused about where I stood.
Apparently he belongs in the careless parent category. I was shocked. He is usually the one with all sorts of unnecessary and stupid rules for the kids. He is usually the strict one. I'm the relaxed one who needs reminders to be more careful.

His viewpoint shook me even further. Good God! How could I have been so wrong about this one? B.Rube laughed at the idea that a parent wouldn't let their kid climb up the slide. A playground is a playground. The structures are built for play and climbing. Who says the slide has to be ONLY for going down? Particularly, when alone on a slide or when there is nobody in the playground, why can't a kid climb up a slide? It speaks to their desire for challenge and their strive to overcome difficulty. Climbing up the slide is a FUN FUN thing. ( I realized quite quickly, as B.Rube started to describe just how fun climbing up the slide was, that he WAS a slide climber himself. and that his mom was a careless mom. No wonder he was so passionate about this.)

His passion rubbed off on me (as it always does....teeheeheeee). The Chaw viewpoint rubbed off on me ( as it always does.....teeheeheee). And I changed my mind.

So, if you see my bullies in the playground climbing up your one-way street, be assured that I care. I care to let them use the playground in a most creative way. I care to teach them about watching for others and knowing when it is their turn. I care, mostly, about finding room outside of that box for all of us to live.
And, be rest assured anyway... if the worst thing we can do is let our kids climb up the slide, we're pretty much off the hook for everything else. Cool.


Anonymous said...

Big thumbs up for B.Rube. I couldn't agree more. Play time is play time.
Funny though how you were steady on your course with the Chaw group..and sounded like there was a good debate at hand. BUT B.Rube was able to get you thinking differently.

My vote --- up/down, whatever...a slide to a child is just a slide..."have at her and have fun"!!!!

Anonymous said...

Never thought about this, never thought that I would HAVE to think about this, but being that I have no idea where I stand on this and I believe all your points to be valid, I guess I'd better.
Thanks and here I thought I could get away with a carefree, mindless Friday. haha
I do have a feeling though that I am all for climbing up the slide. It's just kind of what I think childhood should be about.

Anonymous said...

I just want to comment on this and say I have no comment. :)

(and I still haven't changed my mind)


Anonymous said...

As a professional childcare provider for almost 20 years, and a mother for 11 years...I feel I need to chime in on this topic. I feel two ways about this and even though in daycare there are very concrete rules about playground activity...I confidently held my ground.
I think that there are many safety issues for NOT allowing other people's children to climb Up the slide...(that I do not need to list). But MY's fair game. However ...our family rule has always aware of other children..if someone is at the top waiting to come down..then move out of the way. IF no other child is waiting at the top...then have fun..explore your abilities and limitations. I have the same rule for using the climbing "monkey" bars. Hang on them when others are around...walk on them if you want when no-one else could be hurt. We need to teach our kids to be aware, asses each situation and move from there. Life is full of moments that require flexibility and accomodation and adjustment. It all starts in the playground.


Mom of 5 said...

You know where I stand on this. :)

I look back at the pictures of 9 chaw children happily climbing up slides (not in the way of anyone else) and see nothing but a fun childhood memory. I'm happy that they were able to have that experience without any negativity. Let the Children laugh and play. After all, when they are having fun, we are happier as parents.

Anonymous said...

Well said Sue! And I agree 200%

And Linda -- I don't think any day will be mindless with J.Rube. She keeps the old brain waves moving all around. From slides to "butterflies", reverse cowgirls, bank ers, sheep...etc etc etc.


Anonymous said...

Crap. I'm still on the fence. Thankfully I don't have to make up my mind for another year or so when Baby M will be old enough.


Renee said...

I'm one of those counterculture freaks (aka Careless Parent of Bullies) who lets my kids climb up the slide too. :) We do talk about playground etiquette and taking turns. We haven't had any issues over this yet, but I imagine we will someday.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Sue. My kids have even stripped off all footwear to make climbing up easier. Go for it! Just be aware of others around you.

Winsome said...

When it's just my kids, I don't care if they climb up the slide. I don't care if they roll gravel on the slide either (another issue other parents might have) as long they aren't throwing the gravel around. When there are other kids around, I just try to teach them that whoever is coming down has the right of way.

Magnolia said...

Wow really got our attention with this topic!! LOL
Lot's of responses to this one.

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