Monday, April 18, 2011

Parenting With Integrity

I hate to say we own that playground, but we kinda do.

We are there so often it has become an alternate universe for us. The whole structure is a boat floating in a sea of tomato-sauce colored lava. It boasts six evacuation slides, two pilot ports and sleeping structures for an entire crew. And of course, there are the two active volcanoes--a dangerous red one and an oxygen-rich blue one--ready to "ewupt" at any moment. Thanks to these majestic landmarks we now have our own nicknamed excursion, "Canoes" short for volcanoes. As in, "Can we play Canoes?"

So as you can see, it's not just another playground. It's our escape from suburbia. We take it seriously. And when other children join us we are quick to envelop their characters into our game. "You, look out for the swarm of lava eating sharks making their way here in 0200 hours. We will need to stir the ship due west!" We've never had a friend go home disappointed (or non-depleted of energy, you're welcome parents) after an afternoon of Canoes.

Which is why it took us back a little when a boy, about six came wondering into our territory the other day. The Chief greeted him with a hearty "Hi!" and then about four more "Hi!"s which the child completely ignored.

Ignoring the natives, not a good first impression.

But children are shy and children are scared, and I allowed for all the many reasons why the kid wouldn't simply engage until he turned around and with a puffed chest and an angry look across his entire being, crouched down into my son's face and yelled,


Now every parent has a playground story right? I've heard them. Lots of them. There are some injustices in this world of little people. And my son certainly has picked on his own cousins and nursery mates. I am not ignorant of how this world works. But boy, did it surprise me how ticked I was that this kid could be so cruel. IN OUR WORLD OF MAKE BELIEVE IN ALL PLACES.

I mean, the Christian parent that I want to believe I am went right out the window to my soul. While The Chief thought nothing of the rebuff, I continued to puff and puff until I did something I am not proud of.

I lied.

I called to my son, "Hey we need to go home so you can ride that motorcycle Daddy built for you."

See kid? We're cool. We don't need your junk in our faces. We have motorcycles.

The kid looked over at me.

Ahhh. It's working.

"What?" The Chief asked, armpits stretching from a metal bar, his body hanging like the monkeys we have to clear off the boat from time-to-time.

"Or...would you rather ride the helicopter Daddy made you?"

Which is when the kid zoomed off to meet up with his own dad on the swing set. Sadly, even in victory I didn't feel the thrill of revenge I had hoped to create. And there's the very problem with dishonesty.

The other problem is that I had a WHOLE LOT of explaining to do as we buckled Ever in the stroller and headed home.

"Motorcycle Mom? Huh?"

"Where's copcopter? Huh Mom?"