Monday, June 24, 2013

It Takes a Village?

Who's word would you trust more - your 2.5 year old's or the neighbor's?

About a week ago we were all home on a Saturday afternoon.  My Little Guy and I were hanging out in the family room while my husband and My Big Guy were playing in the basement and backyard (we have a walk out basement).  Now, My Big Guy is a really good kid.  He knows his boundaries and knows where he can and can't go when he's outside (stay on the sidewalk/driveway, no going past certain landmarks).  My husband had to take a work phone call and let My Big Guy go outside to the backyard on his own.

We live on the corner, and the way our house is laid out the only real way to get to the driveway from the backyard is to walk along the sidewalk in front of our house.  No big deal for My Big Guy, this is something he routinely does, and he often does it fairly unsupervised while I'm doing something with My Little Guy in either the backyard or on the driveway.

While my husband is on his work call, and My Big Guy is outside the doorbell rings.  It's the neighbor across the street telling me that My Big Guy is outside alone and was playing in the street.  The neighbor is horrified and appalled and is looking at me like I'm the worst mother in the world.

Now, let's just back it up for a minute here and give some background on this dude.  First of all, he came over while holding a martini.  For real.  Secondly, this dude threw out a 60 inch plasma TV on our Garbage Amnesty Day because the speakers on the TV didn't work.  Um, surround sound?  Um, hook it up to any other speakers at all?  And lastly, this is douche lord felt the need to yell, "Ah! So you finally felt like decorating huh?" across the street when we were putting up our Christmas decorations a few years ago.  I do not have fond feelings towards this man.  His wife has also made comments to me about how she watches us play outside all the time.  Dude.  You have 4 kids, maybe you can find something better to do than watch us play?  She's a nosey hugger, the worst kind of person imaginable.  We are not fond of this family to say the least.

So I walk from the door to the driveway with this guy after he's decided to save my child from the dangers of the street.  There's My Big Guy, playing with a ball in the driveway obeying all the boundaries we've set for him.  Rather than get into it with the neighbor, I take My Big Guy inside and my husband and I talk to him.  We repeatedly ask him if he was playing in the street.  He looks shocked that we would ask, and says no every time.  He says he wasn't in the street, he was on the sidewalk.  He is adamant about it.

My Big Guy has never, ever, not once tried to run into the street.  He won't even go past the boundaries we've set for him unless we're with him.  For him to be PLAYING in the street would be very out of character for him.

So it comes down to the word of a dude who would show up with a drink in hand, and throw away a perfectly fine TV versus the word of my 2.5 year old.  Who would you go with?

We decided to go with our son, and add this to the long list of things we don't particularly like about these neighbors.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Lesson in Stroller Etiquette

So we just returned from a lovely trip to the zoo.  The weather was perfect and so the zoo was pretty crowded.  We were rocking our double stroller, and just about every other family there was using some kind of stroller/wagon as well.

People.  Apparently we need go over some basic stroller/wagon etiquette since it was chaos at the zoo.

1) This is America.  We walk on the right.  Not the middle, not the left, the right.

2)  Push your stroller like you're driving a car on the highway - if you're slow, stay further to the right to allow those faster than you to pass you on the left.  If you are going to pass, do so on the left.

3) The zoo paths are wide, but not that wide.  Again, treat them like a highway - a 4 lane highway.  Do not walk 5 people wide, do not take up the entire width of the path, and do not give people who are trying to wade through your group of 13 walking 7 wide dirty looks.  It is YOU who is the problem.

4) If you need to stop PULL OVER.  The middle of the path is not the place to be preparing a bottle/snack/, tying shoes, changing diapers, or dicking around on your phone.  There are few things more annoying than the abrupt stop when traffic is flowing nicely around you.

5)  There is ample stroller parking available at the entrances to the indoor exhibits - use it.  There is a reason that stroller parking is made available.  There is limited space inside these places and your super wide double jogging stroller is taking up half of it.

6)  Your kid wants to see an animal? Great!  Take him/her OUT of the stroller.  Don't push your stroller right up to the fence, now you're blocking the entire thing for the rest of us.  If you can't handle your kid not in the stroller maybe you shouldn't be out in public with him/her.

7)  If you need to turn around, for the love of God, please check your surroundings.  My Big Guy almost got run over when some mom decided to make a sudden about face with her stroller.  It's the damn zoo people, there are kids EVERYWHERE, look around before you make sudden movements.

8)  It's a stroller/wagon, not a damn RV.  Your kid will be fine without an shady umbrella, a cooler, a cup holder, one of those toy things stretched across the front, and an iPad.  You are at the zoo!  See some animals!  Your kids isn't entertained by the animals?  Maybe you should have stayed home.

If nothing else, please just remember #2 and the rest will fall into place.  Unless you suck at driving too, in which case you're basically just screwed.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

More like prison...

We are in the midst of looking for a preschool for My Big Guy.  Unfortunately he has one of those "past the cutoff" birthdays so he's not eligible for most programs at 2.5.  We want to get him something for socialization and to help work on his speech (he's a bit speech delayed and working with a speech therapist to get him up to speed).  Turns out, this is a harder task than we originally thought.

We did some online research and discovered a highly rated preschool in our area.  It's one of a larger chain, but had great reviews and was spoken of highly by people.  After speaking to the owner/director we decided to go in for a tour.  We were very excited that this might be great for My Big Guy and us.  We were gravely disappointed.

The school felt more like a prison than a school.  I understand safety protocols, especially when involving children - but only to a certain extent, then common sense should take over.

When we were at the school, a child's grandfather came to pick him up.  You would have thought there was a hostile invasion occurring.  The hoops this man had to jump through were astounding.  I felt terrible for him, and for his family.

The doors were all locked at all times.  The kids were basically confined to their one age group in their one age room and that's it.  The teachers were hovering over the kids at all times, no one was left to play on their own.

They were allowed to go outside to a completely covered, completely rubber "playground" specifically for their age groups.  For our son, this meant a "playground" that would have bored My Little Guy.  The Fischer Price castle we have in our house has a bigger slide than this thing did.  Nothing, I repeat NOTHING, was elevated off the ground.  The entire thing was shaded, so that the precious little children might not get a slight sunburn.  The ground was rubber, so that they wouldn't have to experience the awfulness of mulch or dirt on their little hands, and so that if they were to somehow fall from, well, nothing, their falls would be broken softly.  I didn't realize our children were more fragile than a Faberge Egg.

The entire time we were at this prison, I mean school, we saw no one smiling.  None of the teachers, none of the kids, no one.  It was cold, sterile and felt awful.  I know what the school was going for was "clean and safe" but it was so bad we couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Lucky for us we found somewhere else.  It's not a chain, it's older, and it encourages kids to play, get messy and have fun - on their own.  The kids all play together and aren't segregated by age while on the wooden playground.  They play on the many different sized slides, and enjoy the warm sunshine on them.  There's mulch and bugs and dirt and the teachers help them play in it and discover what that feels like and learn more about it and get messy.  They eat lunch and snacks outside.  We're bringing My Big Guy back there to see if he likes it (and we're hoping he does!) and then we're signing him up.

It makes me scared for when he has to start real school.  How hard is that process going to be for us?  I want him to go to school, not prison.