This is something which has irritated me a lot many times in the past, but yesterday was the limit. In general bad manners, in anyone, piss me off big time. I also know that other people don’t get as upset as me so they think I am over-reacting.
We have a small play-area in my apartment complex. It’s basically a big sand-pit with two swings, a slide and some other small rides. The swings are always in demand. I understand that because most kids love the swing the most. Anna is the same. If she had her way she would spend her whole time on the swing. My problem is with a few girls (mostly aged 5-7) who treat the swings as private property. Since they are older they are mostly unaccompanied. They just grab the swings and won’t get down. When they get tired of swinging they’ll just sit on them and chat. Or they’ll pass them on to their friends. If at all someone else (mostly a mom or a maid accompanying a baby) asks them to get down they very grudgingly agree after extracting a promise that they can get back on after 5 minutes.
Day before yesterday I was walking Anna towards the swing and was just about to pick her up and seat her on it when a girl pushed past me and jumped on the swing. I didn’t know what to say. In general I avoid confrontations and somehow I couldn’t make myself argue with a child. Thankfully an old lady who was pushing her grandson on the other swing made him get down and offered it to me.
Yesterday was even worse. As I’ve mentioned, Anna loves the swing. She keeps pointing to it and whining for ‘jhoola’ every few minutes. We’d been in the playground for more than half an hour and two girls were on the swing from before we’d reached there. Finally when I saw that one of them was only standing next to the swing, I took Anna there and told her that I was taking the swing. She immediately jumped on to it and said no. I told her that Anna had been waiting for a long time and we would only take 5 minutes. She again said no. Anna started howling for the swing. I didn’t know what to do. Plus I was really taken aback by her rudeness. Then the other girl told her that it’s ok and they could play on the see-saw and they both left.
Is it just me or is there something really wrong with this kind of behaviour? I don’t think the girls were that small. It’s not just the swings, it’s the general behaviour I see there that disturbs me a lot. Boys throwing sand on the slides, not letting others take a turn, being rough and impatient with the little ones even in front of adults. Once a little girl (maybe around 4) just told me to ‘move’ because she was in a hurry and I was in her way. I saw her doing it to others too. The way some of the kids talk to their maids still manages to shock me even though I know now what to expect.
When Anna is on the swing I make it a point to vacate it after a few minutes if someone else is waiting. Even if she howls. I make her take turns on the slide. I know it’s the right thing to do but I also feel that in a way this puts her at a disadvantage. What really scares me is what the effect such behaviour is going to have on her once she’s a bit older and will be able to understand such things.
I told R about yesterday’s incident. I was fuming and wanted to put a mail on the mailing group that parents should tell their kids how to behave on the playground. R was totally against it. He told me that I should be more firm with the kids. I told him that some are really rude and I just can’t argue with a child. It somehow seems very petty. But I guess I will have to be more firm. For Anna’s sake. If I don’t stand up for her now, she won’t ever learn how to stand up for herself. I don’t mean to teach her to be rude or selfish but she shouldn’t be a doormat either. Be nice but don’t be too nice and don’t let others trample all over you just because your mom taught you some manners and theirs’ didn’t.