Sunday afternoon my wife volunteered to help out with a local Prostate Screening. She works in the medical field and felt like this was something she wanted to be a part of. So that would mean I’d have O and Jake for the afternoon and we had to get out of the house. The kids wanted to go to the park so off we went to have some fun!
There weren’t too many other kids at the park when we got there. Although, there were several kids and a Mom that caught my attention. The three boys looked like they were between 5 and 8 years old. It actually caught my attention because I know how stressed I can feel keeping my eyes on both O and Jake at the same time. I was thinking how much work that must have been for that Mom having to watch 3 boys at the park!
The kids were playing on the jungle gym and having a good time. They had climbed up to the top of this ladder like contraption with semi-circle rails as steps. I’m totally not explaining this right but it was one of those things as a parent you always think they’re going to slip on and bust their chin wide open. Ughh…..just thinking about that!
Anyway, by the time the kids got to the top they were ready to go down the slide. As I went around the front of it to catch them at the bottom I saw this little boy (one of the three I saw earlier) climbing up the slide. I turned to him and said, “You’re going to want to get down Honey, cause they’re coming down”. He just sat there and looked at me without moving a budge. I tried to coax him again in as friendly as possible as a way but again he didn’t move. I told O and Jake to hold on but they were already making their way down the slide. Just as they were coming around the final turn the little boy’s mother came over and scooped him off the slide. She didn’t apologize or say anything other than, “Oh the boys like to climb up the slide.” Off the two of them went and I was left feeling like it was just a strange situation.
A few minutes later O and Jake were going down a different slide and guess who I saw at the bottom of the slide again? This time the kids were already on their way down before I saw him there and Jake slid in to him a little. It wasn’t hard enough for either of them to get hurt but it surprised me that the boy just sat there. It was almost like he wanted to get hit. I get how kids love climbing up the slide but typically they’re quick to get out of the way when someone is coming down at them at what seems like “break neck” speeds to a 5-year old. So the fact that this little boy just sat there waiting to get hit was a little strange to me. I turned and asked if he was alright (I knew he was) and gently told him to be careful. He looked at me with these big puppy dog eyes and his head tilted down towards the ground. He walked over and stood by me and the kids until his Mom came over and got him again. I realize she has two other boys to watch but at this point it just seems like this little guy is a little neglected and something doesn’t quite feel right.
The park we were at is actually divided into two separate play areas with separate equipment and everything. The kids decided they wanted to go over to the other play area. We walked over and guess who was following us? Eventually the mom caught on and came over to get him. About 10 minutes later I was pushing O on the swing and Jake was going down the slide just off to our left. I noticed the little boy again as he was coming towards the swing. I had to warn him to be careful as I was pushing O pretty high and had he stepped in front of her he would’ve been seeing stars. Fortunately he stepped off to the side. Then out of nowhere he comes right in front of me from the left and steps right in between O (who was swinging out) and myself. Thankfully I saw him just in the knick of time and was able to stop O from coming back really hard. Unfortunately, it was a little too late because it happened so fast and O did smack right back into him. He fell to the ground and laid there for a minute. I knew he was okay as the force wasn’t that hard but was still concerned that he got hurt. I was torn between feeling pissed off that he did that and concerned that both O and him were okay.
What was equally as strange as all this was that when the Mom noticed and came over she looked at him, asked if he was alright, picked him up and said, “Oh you must be tired, we should go home now”. She did not apologize to me, ask me if O was okay, or make any other remarks. I mean, both him and O could have gotten very hurt. She carried him off with her two other sons following behind and that was the last we saw of them. The odd thing was that he was quiet the entire time, even when he got knocked by the kids. Only this time he was screaming and crying in his moms arms as he left.
The whole experience was very weird but it occurred to me after I got home what might have been going on. The little boy was not aggressive but certainly put his body in harms way on several occasions. He went out of his way to get hurt and kept coming back for more. Oddly enough, (he being the youngest of the three boys) his mother was never around. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was feeling neglected or abandoned and his attempts at getting injured was just his 5-year old way of getting attention. I’m not a therapist and I could be completely off but the whole thing was just very strange.
I love going to the park with the kids and they always have a great time. It’s all fun and games for O and Jake but every time I go I’m constantly reminded of how different parenting styles there are out there. By all means am I no perfect parent and I do things wrong daily. For some reason the parks seem to attract those parents you just really question though. Could it be my way of projecting my own flaws on other parents? Perhaps it’s just that when you’re not the greatest parent in the world and you’re out in a public place it’s really hard to hide that fact. I think that brings me back to my own work and growth as a positive role in my children’s lives. I may not be the best parent in the world and far from it perhaps. One thing I do know is that I’m aware of both my good and bad parenting actions and I think that’s maybe one thing missing from that woman yesterday. I sure hope I’m wrong and that my concern of his abandonment and neglect was just something made up in my head and not a reality.