Friday, 19 August 2011

Playground Etiquette

I don’t have children of my own, so when it comes to playground etiquette, I’m a bit of a novice. I do however have a beautiful Godboy called Sam (4 yrs) and I try my hardest to be the best Godmum I can be.
Yesterday, Sam’s Granny was at the doctors and his mummy had to work, so I was drafted in to help out. It was a nice day so I promised Sam that he could ride his bike to the park. It seemed like an easy babysitting gig, so he got his bike out, put on his helmet, showed me how his bell worked and off we went.

Within 100 yards, he’d declared that his bike was very hard to ride and that he probably didn’t have enough energy to make it to the park. I did try and I know I probably should have been firmer, but I caved and ended up pushing his bike all the way to the park.

I’ve not been to our local park for a while – it would seem that at 10 o’clock in the morning it becomes a speedway. I was almost mown down by a 6 year old careering out of control towards me on his birthday bicycle. Said child then cycled at full pelt into the curb and did a very impressive roll across the grass. Then followed that key moment – the one where it could go either way. Get up and dust yourself down, or howl. 

‘Who are you here with?’ I asked. ‘Your mum?’

‘My Grandma’ he replied pointing, wobbly, inspecting his grass stains.

‘Go and find her then, she’ll check you’re OK’.

Off he went on his bike, semi-sobbing, to his Grandma who looked about 25 years old. I did a double take. 

‘Impressive’ I thought, nodded and then turned my attention back to Sam, who despite his sticky front brake, was heading for the playground, making a lovely left turn signal as he cycled towards the gate. That’s my boy – very proud!

Excellent signals!

While Sam threw himself down the slide (thankfully he still had his helmet on), I nobbled a Granddad to help me fix the bike. It didn’t start off very well when I called his grandson a girl. But if people won’t cut their child’s hair, how am I to know? To the uninitiated they look very similar at 18 months old.

Actually Granddad was a bit crap in the bike mending department. He very usefully told me to take it back to the shop. I thought Granddads were genetically programmed to fix bikes? Very disappointing!

So, instead of achieving ‘easy option’ I had to actually do something about it myself. There was no way I was carrying Sam’s bike all the way back again – it was very heavy – it had stabilizers. 

Actually, it wasn’t so hard to fix – it just meant that he couldn’t use his front brake. After congratulating myself on my mechanical genius, Sam insisted that I went on the roundabout and pushed me round until I felt sick. He refused to stop – until I managed to distract him with a well timed helicopter appearance!

‘Look – helicopter’ I shouted, and while he was waiting for it to appear from behind the trees, I managed to stick my foot out, slow the damn thing down and jump off. I needed a sit down after that!

Sam wanted to go down the slide again, but this time head first. He still had his helmet on, so I figured that covered any health and safety issues. He wasn’t quite sure how to go about it though. Never having been head first down a slide myself, I probably wasn’t the best person to ask, but I managed to talk him through it and Sam duly skeleton bobbed down the slide successfully, beaming as he got to the bottom.

It’s funny how children talk to each other. Sam at the grand old age of four is clearly very grown up and sensible, so when the little boy (that looked like a little girl), tried to climb up the slide, Sam in his very serious voice, reprimanded him and told him that he was ‘too little!’ So the little boy offered Sam a crisp and Sam duly let him climb up the slide. I love his tactics.

All too soon it was time for us to go. Of course Sam didn’t want to go and called me a ‘Pinky ponky poo-poo’, but I’ve been called worse so we left the park with Sam riding ‘very, very fast’ all the way on his bike, minding that he didn’t use his front brake. We stopped just long enough for him to name the snails on the fence ‘Sarky and Farty’ – what does his mother teach him? Before getting back to his house for a well earned glass of milk and a jaffa cake.

Sam on his way back from the park.

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