July 30, 2012

Playground Politics

            As everybody knows: Sharing ain’t easy. 

And frankly, when it comes down to it, sharing is kind of a pain in the ass. 

And when it comes to playgrounds, where you (and that small human you’ve brought along with you) came armed with toys galore, which consequently, given the nature of small humans, get ignored and forgotten and abandoned, and then acquired by other (unrelated) small humans, and then consequently abandoned and avoided and ignored by those small humans, and then another (anonymous) small human comes along and acquires these toys, and then plays and abandons and ignores them, and on and on it goes, all while you’re trying to instruct your child on the common decency rules of please, thank you, you’re welcome, and what not, when people keep coming up and snaking her toys right out of her reach, all the while, she’s hearing that she’s supposed to say please, thank you, you’re welcome, and what not, when people keep coming up and stealing her shit right out from under her nose, when what she probably really wants to say (but can’t, given her 14 months) is: “Thank you very much but keep your filthy mitts off my plastic bucket you little spoiled brat.”

            But as a parent of an only child, I feel that all this is good practice for her.  It’s a sharing exercise, so to speak.  A way for my kid to learn how other kids who live with other kids have to live when they live with those other kids that they live with. 

            What I’m really trying to say to my kid is:  “This is how the other half lives.”

            So, as my little one is gradually learning, per our established policy, when anybody comes up on the playground and wants to play with our stroller or our bucket or our cup or our sponge, she has to give it up and they are allowed to play with it. 

            But not everybody in the playground has similar a policy. 

            For some, there’s no policy whatsoever.  There is just a sort of eminent domain.  “I see it.  It is available.  Therefore, it is mine.” 

            For others, there is no reasonable quid pro quo.  “Oh, I’ll take that,” they say.  Then they take it, with no equal exchange.

            For some, the quid pro quo may indeed be in the eye of the beholder, such as when the holder of a miniature stroller or a sponge or a bucket is willing to exchange (albeit temporarily) their inferior goods for a plastic cup or a burst water balloon or, frankly, someone’s own father figure.

Because, in the end, if everybody’s happy with an equal, if only temporary, exchange, then who can argue with that? Certainly not me.  And having been traded, individually, and on several occasions, for, amongst other things, a half-empty water bottle, a plastic truck, a half-eaten cheese stick, a six-year-old dachshund, a handful of week-old dirt, two tennis balls, and an abandoned shoe, I must naturally ask the question:  Ain’t parenthood great?  


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