I love the helpfulness of other parents, I really do. I need to start this post out by saying that. I love how as mothers and fathers we can watch out for each other's kids and form a community and a village and all that good feeling warm fuzzy stuff. But also? I want to leave my kids alone at the playground, and I want you to do the same. What exactly do I mean? Allow me to explain.
I am a firm believer, and becoming even firmer by the day, that kids need to learn how to be in the world, independent from me. That means learning how to climb on things and fall off of things and know they are alright and navigate other kids and sharing and making new friends. For me, being at the playground is not time for me and them to hang out, it's time for me to sit and chill for a little bit while they do their thing with the other kids, or by themselves if we happen to be there alone. I'm hands off. I'm hands WAYYYYY off at the playground guys.
Things I will not do: I will not stand there and tell my kid to share with your kid. Ever. They are learning right in that very moment what sharing truly means, and me telling them arbitrarily to SHARE and forcing them to give their toy over isn't the way they are going to learn. So, I won't do it, and I don't expect your kid to do it. Let's see if they can work it out together, and if not? Maybe next time.
Instead of me telling them how to say hi and bye and nice to meet you, I am going to just do it myself when I see other people and hope they take my lead. I won't stand there and help two toddlers try to make "friends", they are humans, little ones, but still humans, they can figure out how to be together on the playground in their own way. I might make a quick introduction for my little one who doesn't talk much yet but that's about it. Then I'm done with the friendship match making.
I will make zero apologies for my child having a little bit of a tantrum or not knowing how to share or not wanting to take turns immediately. It's a small child, they aren't perfect, don't expect my two year old to always wait in line, and I won't expect yours to. Gentle guidance yes, but my butt isn't getting up off the bench if they aren't waiting patiently to use the slide. Again, this playground is their little community, let them figure it out. Or, at least, let me let mine figure it out. Are your kids perfect sharers and line waiters already? No? Didn't think so. Mine aren't either, so let's not pretend like they should be 100% on the ball all the time with that.
I will also not follow my kids around on the playground. I will keep an eye out for the smaller one to make sure she doesn't topple off the scary open parts by the top of the big slides, but for the most part I want her to do it all by herself, and if she is hesitating to climb up something or go down something, please give her a minute before you help her. I want her to learn how to help herself and make decisions and navigate situations. I am right here, close by, I'm not sitting in my car out of sight on Snapchat or something. Teaching them independence isn't neglect, and I'm honestly unsure of when and where we as a society in the US blurred that line, but I'm going to take it back as much as I can.
Things I will do: Try and make sure my kid doesn't hit/bite/hurt your kid, and if he/she does, I will intervene and help make it a teaching moment and make sure your kid is safe and not hurt. That's pretty much the only time I will step in at this point though.
When to come "find me" on the playground? If they are bleeding, screaming/crying, etc. then by all means yes, I want to know and I will take care of it. If they are running in the direction of danger/the street then yes, let's operate common sense and step in. But please don't think I am a horrible mom if my toddler falls off an 18 inch plastic molded slide and I let them cry for a minute from a distance before they get up and brush themselves off. I am not trying to be a jerk if I don't step in when my kid won't share her sand toys.
Look, the bottom line is I'm not trying to say my way is better than anyone else's way, we all do our own thing with our own kids and that is totally cool with me. I guess all I'm saying is that respect my way of doing things and I'll respect yours as best I can. Do I think you're being clingy or hovering if you follow your kid around on the playground? No, I don't know your life, I don't know you or your child, so I'm not going to make assumptions, and let's do the same for everyone else, k? Good.