Summer School: How To Play Park Politics

Photo courtesy Michael Alberstat

Ah, the park. We are a country of park-goers. Our nation’s capital alone boasts over 850. And as parents across the country know, as soon as the snow melts, the floodgates open at your neighbourhood playground. If your kids are young, you have to get in the sandbox and employ your best, dare I say, Canadian manners to lubricate every interaction. It’s exhausting. You may see me there and think, “She’s quiet.” I’m really just conserving energy. How else could I deal with…

THE TINY MENACE
She’s a little cutie, until she’s slapping, kicking or toppling your little munchkin. Repeatedly.

What to do: Don’t raise your voice or admonish her or her parents, no matter how convinced you are the tyke is a future sociopath. Politely tell her guardians what happened, asking them to speak to her about it.

THE TOY FIGHTS
If a toy’s any fun, your sweetpea will snatch it from an unsuspecting child with a grip alarmingly formidable for someone two feet tall.

What to do: Get your tot to return the toy, apologize and ask, “Maybe later I can have a turn?” Do it for him if he’s pre-verbal and whip out a toy from your purse to distract him in the interim.

THE ANNOYING PARENT
Unfortunately you have to share the park with Overshare Mom (“I lanced the boil using…”) and Weird Rules Dad (“Liam, use your inside voice at the park.”) They get on your nerves.

What to do: Use these nuggets to break the ice with that normal-looking mom. Everyone likes to hear about parents nuttier than themselves.

By Helen Racanelli, mom of a toddler and daily park habitué

For more advice, check out: Moms and Playground Gossip

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