My daughter, covered in dirt, walked over and placed an offering of stones and sticks at my feet. After explaining how precious they were, she went back to digging and searching for the elusive one stick to rule them all. While she was searching, I checked my phone to see what the plans were for the day. While looking at my phone, I looked up to see a mom hovering over me. I raised my eyebrows and said, “Hi.”
Mom: Do you know that your daughter is carrying around a stick?
Me: Oh, did she hit someone?
Mom: No, but she might.
Me: But she didn’t?
Mom: She shouldn’t be playing with sticks. Someone could get hurt.
(I scanned the playground and noticed two boys sword fighting with sticks.)
Me: (Yelling) He sweetie, go see if you can sword fight with them.
I looked up at the mom with the expression, “You have anything else to say?” And did my best The Rock impression and raised an eyebrow. She gave me a dirty look and returned to her group of glaring moms.
My daughter asked the boys if she could play, but they turned her down. And so, with her head bowed, she returned to running around with her stick and hitting trees. As she did so, I gave my best side-eye to the mom who suggested she not play with sticks.
I should add here that my daughter is only 3. There were kids running around, throwing balls, and boys beating the crap out of each other with sticks, but my daughter merely running around with a stick got all up in her crawlspace. It isn’t only men who believe that girls and women should be more “ladylike,” but a group of women do so as well. Many moms have adopted the “Boys will be Boys” attitude while girls should go and either chase those boys or have tea parties or whatever girls are supposed to do. I have never raised my girls that way. They sword fight one minute and have tea parties the next. And so do my boys. Sticks and stones are for everyone. If they happen to break a bone, well, that’ll be a great story someday. But I doubt it would start out with, “This 3-year-old girl was running around the park one day and broke my clavicle.”
Moms and dads at the playground need to lighten up and let chaos occur. Parents need to be more like bouncers at the playground. Stay back, stamp a few hands, keep your eyes on the lookout, and if something goes down, be there to separate and escort away. Other than that, sit back and enjoy childhood.
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