She is so adventurous! She wanted to try everything the bigger kids were doing and we did our best to help her do just that. One little boy even took her hand and helped her get settled and sliding on the biggest slide and another girl slid down the slide with Smug-Baby on her lap. I was really pleased to see that none of these kids was so focused on their own play that they pushed her over or knocked her down. I was also pleased to see that they were not irritated by her lack of skill or speed and helped her rather than pushing past her.
After a time, I rested and let Smug-Hub take over playing with her and the other kids for a while. I sat on a bench and watched the play unfolding and how most of these kids played so well together and were helpful with my little one. I also watched the other parents, taking to each other and yelling the occasional encouragement to their little ones.
Then, suddenly someone was crying, yelling to her mother that another girl had hit her. The mother walked over to assess the situation and because both girls were intent of getting their side across, I could hear every word. The crying little one said that her big sister had hit her. The big sister defended her decision to hit her little sister by saying that little sister had hit her first. Little sister responded that this was true, but big sister had hit her really hard. I couldn't hear the mother's replies, but I imagine it had something to do with hitting never being OK and there was never a good reason for hitting and within moments the girls had run off together, once again playing happily.
Another incident involved a boy pushing another boy down the slide. They probably would have worked it out among themselves, however the mother of the pushed boy witnessed what happened and stood yelling to the other boy's mother "You kidding me? Get your kid away from my son!!!" The pushed boy began to cry and yell that he was hurt from the other boy pushing him and his mother ran to his side glaring at the boy who did the pushing and his mother all the while. The mother of the boy who pushed, asked her son to say that he was sorry, but he was tight-lipped (probably from fear as the other mother was kind of scary what with all the running over and yelling). It was over as quickly as it started and the boys played on opposite sides of the playground for a while before once again mingling with everyone.
All this got me thinking about parenting styles and how our children learn to feed off of what we as their parents put out there. As I said, most of the children were playing together wonderfully well and including this much smaller person (Smug-Baby) without prompting by us or their own parents. This tells me that somewhere in their lives they have been taught to help care for people smaller than themselves and to help those who are unable to do for themselves. Perhaps they learned this by being part of a larger family of brothers and sisters, or part of a closer extended family of cousins. Perhaps this was conscious lesson by their parents.
The women who's daughter's were hitting each other, never raised her voice, never smacked one or the other of the girls and didn't appear to force them to play together. She addressed their concerns/issues in a way that diffused the situation and allowed the girls to go on playing together.
The mother who yelled as soon as her son was involved in a situation seemed (in my opinion) to make the situation worse. She startled both boys and the other mother and jumped into the middle of what could have been nothing serious and the boys could have, perhaps, worked out for themselves.
There isn't anything really wrong with stepping in to protect your child and God help any little kid who would have pushed Smug-Baby!! But there is something to be said to watching a situation unfold and see how your child handles themselves. Giving him/her a chance to work it out, deal with a bully, or whatever I would think would be a good thing. You can't always be there to watch out for your child and they should learn how to confront others. Now, of course, I am talking about these boys who were 7 or 8 years old and not an infant or even a two-year old for the most part.
As I think more and more about the kind of parent I want to be, I am focused on watching how others parent and what things they do that resonate with me. What techniques do I want to stick away in my memory to pull out later? How is someone treating their child that I want to be sure that I never do? Smug-Hub and I have a really huge responsibility to our children. God gave them to us, trusting us to do our very best and with that comes the realization that while following our instincts is our best parenting resource, we can't stumble along parenting without consciousness.We need to make sure that everything (OK most things) we do with regard to our children follows our own personal parenting philosophy.
I want to be a conscious parent connected to my children and making decisions to the best of my ability that honor them as people who have feelings and nerve endings, fears and hopes and dreams. I want to foster closeness that never fades as they get older. I want them to feel confident and strong in their lives. I want them to feel connected to the earth and all who live here. I want them to be conscious parents themselves one day. I hope that I am up to this great challenge! It is a big responsibility!!