When I was pregnant I was so excited that we were going to welcome a new little person in our lives and home. And oh! All the fun things we will do together! We could go to the zoo, museums, and Disneyland! And… Wait a minute. Ugghh! I’m going to have to go to the playground and hang out and talk with other parents. Um, no! I’d rather not. Thank you. Now, however, that Ale is actually here I really do love to go to the playground and I like talking to the parents.
Ale of course has a built in playground GPS as he can spot a towering slide miles away. When we arrive at the playground we park our stroller by the swings and swing back and forth for a while. Next up are the slides, steps, monkey bars and tunnel. Then Ale suddenly remembers — SANDBOX! He makes his way there often leaving me behind as I run in the other direction for the stroller while at the same time I try to keep track of the little boy in the green jacket.
I park the stroller and sit along the border of the sandbox. If I had a coffee in my cup holder I take that out and have a few sips of cold coffee. Ale walks around looking for a fun communal toy. This is when the kiddy sandbox politics begin. All the mom’s and dads look at their iPhones checking out Facebook or the New York Times. They think that if they comment on the photo of a friend’s homemade pie the eruptions won’t happen.
Ale reaches for a rake. “No!!! That’s mine!” and a child takes it from his hand. Ale goes over to another corner if the sandbox and I chit chat with another mom. Then a little boy who did not want to surrender his bucket yells out, throws himself in the sand. His dad comes and takes him away.
Ale is now playing with a dump truck. A girl tries to take it from him. This time he resists and continues to play with the truck. The little girl then takes her shovel fills it with sand and pours it into Ale’s hood. I catch her eye. She was caught in the act. What can I do? Tell Ale to give her the truck? Do I reprimand her? Then I see her parents and think twice.
The sandbox is really a giant tool to test your child day in and day out on how to directly interact with other kids and learn how to share. For the parents it’s also a test on civility and to see if you can also stand by the same rules we expect our children to follow. For example in the situation above I was able to successfully direct Ale to another toy but I really wanted to push the little girl for pouring sand into Ale’s hood and shout “He’s my sweet baby! Leave him alone!”.
Then Ale gets up and sees another girl making a sand castle. He walks over points and then knocks it down with his hand. Now I’m apologizing to the girl and to her mom.
The sandbox lesson of the day: When faced with something we don’t like we have to just keep our cool, move on, and rebuild if necessary.