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It's Called a PLAYground, for Chrissake!

I am not usually one of those bitchy judgmental mamas. (Or at least, I try really hard not to be one.) I believe that parenting is a personal journey, everyone does it differently, and unless you are beating your child across the face with a two by four, I am fine with whatever choices you make along the way. That being said, I do have a few pet peeves. I hate a lazy four year old in a stroller, with her knees up to her face and her feet scraping the floor. I understand that pushing her is faster than waiting for her to climb up and down every staircase, swing on every scaffolding and observe every ant in NYC. (Believe me, I understand.) Pushing her is also easier than hearing her whine about how tiiiiirrrred she is and how much her legs huuuuurrrt. Still, leave the house earlier and make her walk. Tell her to suck it up, her legs will be fine. Even better, her legs will gown these things called muscles which will make walking easier. Everyone wins! And her preschool teachers will thank you for it. Trust me.

On a similar topic, I cannot stand the pacifier mumble. If your child is napping in his stroller, by all means stick in the binky. But if they are in music class, or on the jungle gym, or any other environment where they are supposed to be learning to socialize, put it away. There is nothing more annoying to me than an adorable child who is trying to tell his buddy something absolutely brilliant but can't get it out past the rubber nipple. Oh, and if your child is mature enough to pull the thing out, speak his piece and then put it back in himself, for goddsake take it away! It is called a pacifier for a reason. If your kid is joyfully racing around the playground like a bat out of hell, he does not need to be pacified. Spit it out.

Today at the playground I added something new to my list of annoying things that parents will allow their kids to do. There was a boy sitting on a park bench playing with an IPad. Don't get me wrong, I am all for electronic entertainment. Maya watches TV in the morning while having breakfast and often again in the evening while one of us is cooking dinner and cleaning up the house. She gets to use Matthew's tablet on long car rides and we always have a device with Angry Birds on it when we are in a restaurant. These things are a lifesaver in situations where we need our child to sit down and shut up. But at a playground? Hell no!

Playgrounds are for running. climbing, screaming, making friends, falling down and getting back up, getting wet and getting dirty, none of which you can do with an IPad in your lap!

Ok, to give the boy (who was about 8 years old) the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he was reading a book? When I was little I would often take a book to the park, scramble up a tree to some hidden spot in the leaves and then disappear into a story for hours. I have a Nook so all of my reading is electronic now. Perhaps he came to the park with the IPad so he could read Harry Potter in the fresh summer air?

Except he didn't.

He was so into his video game that he could not bear to part with it while his sisters were running around having a water fight. Again, I'm not against Minecraft, I'm just against playing it here. You want to fight a battle? Go do it on the slide. You want to go on an adventure? Make one up! There is a big beautiful world out there, you have an amazing young mind, and you are wasting both.

You might as well be a four year old in a stroller.

There are few things that irk me more than when Maya says she is bored. You have a brain, use it! I am sorry we forgot to bring a bag of plastic crap for you to entertain yourself with. Why don't you look out the window and make up a story in your head. Pretend the car is a spaceship. OMG, use your imagination! You are four! No four year old should ever be bored.

Once we were on a long road trip and Maya was watching Strawberry Shortcake. We drove by a perfect country scene, grassy fields, misty mountain tops. Perhaps there was even a rainbow. It was disgustingly beautiful and all Maya cared about was what Blueberry Muffin was doing with her friends. And I get it. These shows are designed to be fascinating to kids. TV is awesome. Apps are great. I adore my smartphone. Maya can learn to do long division by moving little colored shapes around a screen with her index finger. But not at the playground, please. Just say no. Leave the IPad at home and make your kid PLAY! If he complains tell him the battery is dead. Whatever works. But make him run, make him swing, make him get dirty. Force him to invent a game using nothing but his miraculous 8 year old brain. It will be amazing! And too many kids nowadays have forgotten how to do this.

Then, when he comes home, after he washes all that beautiful dirt out of his fingernails and before he turns the IPad back on, make him clean his room. Someday, his wife will thank you.

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