Thursday, August 07, 2008

Why I don't like "making friends" at the park

I took the boys to the water park in Whittier today - a spur of the moment trip that just sounded fun. It didn't turn out to be as much fun as I had hoped. You see, there were a few other families there, and unfortunately, they didn't have anything like the same standards for their kids as I do for mine.

Initially I was happy to meet the mother camped out on the bench next to me. She is also pregnant (with her fourth) and due just a few weeks after me. She also mentioned, while introducing her children, that they all were named after saints. "Great!" I thought, "they're probably a nice Catholic family!"

Well, (nominally) Catholic they may be, but they certainly weren't nice.

The mother was friendly, but her language! And I hadn't brought a book or a magazine, so I couldn't be "occupied" and discourage her chatter. A bigger problem, though, was the way her children treated mine. Jonathan came running back to me in tears every few minutes because one of her children had thrown something at him, or kicked water in his face, or told him that he couldn't play. Three year olds just don't understand this kind of thing - he was so incredibly sad about it and there wasn't a good way for me to explain it to him. The frustrating thing was that the other mom sat and watched this all happen, and all she ever did was scream "stop it!" at her kids, along with various swear words. As I'm sure you can imagine, they paid no attention whatsoever.

We ended up leaving early, which also made Jonathan sad.

I came home sad about the whole encounter, and very grateful for the good friends we do have. I am so glad I'm not trying to navigate a generic community mom's group. There is much to be said for shared values in choosing your and your childrens' friends.


JoAnn said...

While I don't mind making friends at the park, it isn't common to find that nice family you want your kids around. If the kids don't have negative behavior, then the parents do. I usually just speak up. I've told kids to take turns, pull up their pants, or stop the language. I've forbid my children from playing with a specific child in the park, explaining that they were not nice kids due to their behavior, in front of the offensive child. I want them to know that their behavior is why they are not welcome to play with my kids. I've asked adults to cut the language, simply saying, "Our family doesn't use that kind of language. Would you please watch what you are saying in front of the children?" Almost everyone has apologized and complied. I've only left a park once due to other people and that was after a string of four different offensive people/groups in one day.

It's a pretty sad thing isn't it?

Missy said...

Poor short term friends...good what not to do for your children. Sorry the water park was so stinky!

Amber said...

I've done some of what Joann says - thankfully I've never encountered situations as bad as she has so I haven't had to go that far. But I've warned my kids away from others, moved my seat to be away from obnoxious adults, and corrected other people's children when they were a problem and the adult was not effectively stepping in. I also have left early because I didn't feel comfortable dealing with the situation (generally with teens playing hooky from school at the park that used to be near our house.) It is unfortunate and frustrating though to have to deal with stuff like this, isn't it!

I hope you can go back after school starts... I've found that the parks are generally a lot better during school hours!

Angie said...

That stinks! I just hate being in that situation.

We had to leave the play area in Chick-Fil-A the last time we went because there were so many children there and they were totally unsupervised. It was so annoying! :(