“Mama, Watch Me Swing…Watch Me Swing!!”

Thanks to my son, I’ve regained great appreciation for how much fun playing at the park was…and is.

Today I took my son to the park around lunch time. It was a chilly day so the park was mostly empty except for a couple of people running their dogs in the dog run. A few minutes after we arrived, a family parked themselves at a bench near the playground and ate lunch. My son loves the swings so we were busy having fun and I didn’t pay much attention to the family eating. That was until I decided to take my son down from the swings and go for the play structure.

There was a little girl with the family, I’d say maybe 5 years old. A young couple sat at the bench, who I assumed to be the mother and father. The little girl followed us and wanted to play along. Unfortunately I don’t speak Spanish well, if much at all and I don’t think she spoke English; but we both seemed to communicate despite the language barrier. We followed each other up and down the slides. My son tried to keep up as we ran up and down the steps of the structure. My son is barely 14 months old, so it took us longer to get to and from. The little girl would get antsy because we weren’t keeping up. After ten minutes of this, I looked around for her parents.

They were still sitting at the bench, but their backs were turned. I had to do a double take but soon realized they were making out! Maybe they were just having a “moment”. I continued running around the playground with my son as the little girl tagged along. Every so often the little girl would call out for her “mama” to watch her on the slides. This continued on for another twenty minutes. Not once did the parents turn around and pay her any attention. The little girl continued to follow us and at times got very clingy…she kept trying to hold my son’s hand and wanted to help us up the steps. My heart rang for her…she was just begging for attention. It was getting late so to wrap up the day we went back to the swings. The little girl wanted to help push my son in the swing.
The swings are directly behind where the parents sat and yet their backs were still turned away. After a few minutes of swinging, a couple of kids and their mom arrived at the park. These children were closer in age to the little girl. She soon lost interest in us and chased after the kids who just arrived. Still…no response from the parents. My son and I finished up on the swings and headed home.

I left feeling sad for the little girl. All she wanted was for her mom to watch her on the slides or to come play on the structure with her. Not only did she crave attention from her parents… she was left to play alone. Maybe I’m overly paranoid but in today’s world you should never be so quick to trust your surroundings. Still, I was most sad that all the little girl wanted was her mother’s attention and couldn’t get it. I know everyone’s situation is different – so I should NOT be one to judge. Still I couldn’t help but feel some sorrow for the little girl…after all I spent over 30 minutes with her chasing my son and me around the playground; not once did her parents engage with her.

When my brother and I were kids, I remember my grandmother harping at my mother about spending more time with her children because they grow up so fast. Now that I have my son, I see so clearly what my grandmother was so adamant about. I can’t believe my son is already 14 months old; he is walking, trying to talk, and growing up before my eyes. Just yesterday he was a tiny baby sleeping in my arms and now he’s a rambunctious little boy on a major exploration! I don’t want to miss a second of it and I don’t want to rush a thing by. Even if it’s a few minutes of running around a playground with my son, I don’t want to miss it; we get to spend time together, we both get activity in our day, and best of all, fresh air and sun, together.

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