Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sad, but sadly true

This afternoon the kids and I headed to the park as soon as The Talker got home from school. OK, not as soon as. We had to stop at Krispy Kreme on the way to the park. Yep, had to.

Anyways, we went to the neighborhood park to hang out. Usually the after school crowd is hopping, but today there were only three other kids and one mom up there. It was a family that I don't remember seeing before.

After The AtHomeTrio snacked on Krispy Kremes, the kids bolted for the playscape. I hung out at the nearby picnic tables and wished that I had brought a pillow.

One of the 3 girls with the other family came over to chat with me. She was maybe 4 years old. From where I was sitting, her mom could not see us, so mom came close enough to see the chatty daughter.

Believe me, I am not offended that the mom was keeping a close eye. I would be worried if the mom had not noticed her kid hanging around, out of sight. The mom had to move, to check on a younger daughter. So I moved to the other side of the playscape, since I was expecting Chatty Kid to keep up the talk. That way the mom could see all of her brood while she pushed her youngest on a swing.

Chatty Kid started gathering a collection of sticks. She would walk a few steps, find a stick and return to show off her treasure. Kind of like a lazy Golden Retriever dog. After she made a dozen trips to fetch sticks, I reached over the retaining wall and picked up a particularly gnarly and rough looking stick for Chatty Kid to add to the pile.

At the moment I handed the girl the stick, the mom called her over. They started gathering up their things and left soon after that. Since we were the only three left at the park, we headed home, too.

As we were walking away from the park, the mom stopped me. She mildly chastised me for giving her kid that stick. Now, she wasn't yelling or anything, but I think she was sort of freaked out. At one point she told me something like 'I don't want the kids to learn that they can accept ANYTHING from strangers.'

Sadly, I think the mom had a point. Maybe she overreacted. Or maybe she just doesn't know that this neighborhood is rife with stay at home dads. I mean I had moved so that she could see her kid more easily. But I still don't know the lady. She and I are in fact, strangers. And teaching your kids to be smart and safe around strangers IS good family policy.

If I had stopped on my way into the park to chat up the mom, playtime might have ended up differently. Or the mom might have though I was trying to hit on her. Either way, I was going to end up looking a little creepy.

In the end, I am glad to see the mom took charge of a situation that freaked her out. But I am sad that to think that I was the cause of the end of playtime. Playtime is supposed to be fun. But on days like this it just tends to be a lot of work for me.


KC said...

Hmm. If you'd been a woman giving the kid stick... i think it would have gone a bit differently.

Mike said...

Yeah, KC. That is the part that makes me feel the worst about all of this.

Terry said...

I hate double standards... Sorry, this had to happen... We all know you are a nice enough guy! I really do hate double standards!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your classic, "Darned if you hit on hot mom, and darned if you try to subvert her kid" situation to me. I don't think you had a good "out" here.

But still, if she was so concerned about her kids picking up habits from strangers, then wouldn't NOT letting them talk to strangers be the best policy? Sounds like she had ample time to come over and see what was going on before she unloaded on you.