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Took the kids to the park yesterday afternoon. Was actually a lot more crowded than I thought it would be: This was cool because the parents all helped out. When kids were fighting, a parent stepped in, regardless of whose they were. When Julie wanted help getting on a swing, she got it, even if I was typing on the powerbook 100 feet away. When Julie wanted to push some kid in a little car around in circles, she got to.

This isn't something I've ever seen before: when I went to parks, the other parents stayed out of the way, and my mom had to take care of us: especially hard since at the time, she was typically watching somewhere between 5 to 8 kids.

Is this normal? Do most neighborhood parks have parents all over them helping out all the kids?

Alicia even got to help some lady who was playing tennis: she tossed balls to her to help her practice her swing. (I think she was a Brit of some kind: definite accent, but I don't have the experience to tell where.)

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It's normal here. The only thing I notice parents don't do anymore is share snacks, because that's a big issue now (allergies, safety, hygiene, druggings, etc.).

This is in part testing quickreply...

I actually shared teddy grahms with another mom at one point. This was the divorcee who found out I was a stepparent (It's pretty obvious I'm too young to be Alicia's biological dad, and I'm too honest to just let them think I'm a brother or something) and interrogated me on whether she would ever be able to find another man for her and her kid.

Not if she keeps interrogating the cute, taken ones she meets at parks! :p

I was just shaking my head inside the whole time. I understood why she was doing it -- She was right in the middle of the divorce, and wanted reassurance "everything will be okay", but I was like... man. You're talking to the wrong person.

(Quickreply is kind of neat. need to make it not run right up along the edges of things.)

In the middle of divorce is one of the hardest times in a mother's life -- remember how neurotic I was?

I've shared snacks before - but always check with the parents first about that to make sure it is ok.)

Every park I go to it's a shared thing. At this point though we all know each other too. We often share snacks and drinks, but yeah always ask first. Sage knows if someone offers her a snack she has to come ask me and the other kid's parent first and all the other kids pretty much do that as well. It's nice once you get to know all the regulars really well becuse then if you need to go to the restroom you don't have to gather everyone up to go with you.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to the time when I'm not working 50 hours a week anymore and I can actually take a couple hours off when we go to the park: right now I'm so swamped from upcoming release that I was having to work and not getting the chance to converse. I know that there's one woman there (speaks an eastern European anguage of some kind) who I've seen twice before.

Before I've gone on weekends, and there's usually a lot more babies (which julie loves to torture) and fewer older kids (more under 4s, less over) and it's more of a PITA because I have to introduce myself to every parent of every child under 3 in the park before julie picks them up and tries to walk away with them. But yesterday, there were other kids! and they were playing! alicia got on the see-saw with some kid she met, and was making up some candyland game, and and and...

it was just neat and new for me.

Parks are awesome. They definitely have busy times and slow times. Kids are great for making instant best friends. It's lots of fun to watch. I love taking Sage, Benjamin and Chase to the park whenever I have them because it's the easiest for me (I get to sit and read a book for a couple of hours) and for them (they can safely play, play, play all the want and wear themselves out). I was more on top of them before I got to know everyone, now it's nice we can go and I can chat with other adults or I can sit and read a book and everyone knows me so they keep an eye on the kids and let me relax. I'm so glad they finally finished the new park they built actually inside the property of my complex (as opposed to a standard "playground" type thing).

It's a testiment to parental society how we automatically take turns being the watchers and the relaxers.

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There was a brother and sister physical brawl last night over a specific seat at the playground: Brother had it first, sister wanted it, brother wouldn't let go, sister started hitting him.

My first thought was "oh my god, I'm so glad our girls aren't like that."

My second thought was to walk over there, look at both of them, and say "I think it's my turn to sit here." It worked: he got up, and she walked the other way. Of course, 5 minutes later they were fighting over sand toys, at which point mom decided it was time to go home; a good plan all around.

The mom saw it pretty quick and came over, but I was closer.

I always discipline everyone if they're having a problem. If kids are fighting, I walk over and ask, "Is there a problem here?" Confronted with a random adult, they usually just separate. If toddlers are fighting, I walk over and remind them that we use our words and gentle hands.

I never physically pull kids off of each other or scream at them, so I don't feel any doubt about disciplining other people's kids -- it's more of an intervention than a lasting discipline process.

So, perhaps this is a silly question, but what were you doing on your Powerbook in the park when there are younguns to entertain? ;-)

Working, sadly. I'm on a serious time crunch before release (which should finally happen this week), meaning that I'm back to having a few free hours a day - something I haven't had for a while.

Awww, uck. Well, you'll get a break after this I hope, right?

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