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August 04, 2008

Sandbox Rules

Sandbox_rules2So, I’ve always considered myself one of those “chill” moms, you know? Not too many rules – the standard ones, of course (no hitting, share, etc.), but I don’t think I’m too uptight. Until, of course, someone did something against the rules I didn’t realize I had.

I’m at the playground on Sunday with a girlfriend, her husband, her 3 year old, her newborn, and of course, my son, who is almost two. We adults are sitting on the bench with the baby watching my son and her daughter play in the sandbox when I see it: water being poured by the bucket into the sandbox, just a few feet away from where my son is playing. The kicker: it’s being poured by two fathers who are showing their daughters how cool it is to see the water run down the rocks like a waterfall into the sand.

The person I was two years ago (before child) would have thought this was brilliant, sweet and downright cool of these fathers to be so engaged and clever. But the mother I am now, who has to deal with filthy sandboxes (and subsequently a disgusting child) due to the pouring of buckets of water into sandpits, couldn’t deal. I heard myself saying out loud to my friend: “I can’t believe they are doing that! Don’t they know it’s against the rules??” I cringe even writing the words that I uttered.

My friend, a strong-willed, fighter for equal-rights in all areas, says “well, if it bothers you, you should say something!” And then, not wanting to look like a total loser in front of her, I stand up, and tentatively walk towards these unsuspecting fathers. As I get closer I glance back at my friend and she nods her head in encouragement. A kind of “you go girl!” type of look. No turning back now.

“Hi, I’m sorry to bother you guys, but would mind not pouring water into the sandbox? I know it’s a lot of fun, but it makes the sandbox REALLY disgusting and dirty, and my son gravitates towards that, of course, and then I have to deal with it….” ramble ramble ramble. At this point I’m having an out of body experience, feeling like THAT mom, the one that places all the rules on the other parents. The one dad makes a joke “The dirtier, the more fun, right?” and I say something about being sorry for being a party pooper. The other dad looks down at his full bucket, poised for pouring, and slowly walks back towards the water and pours it out, as disappointed as a three year old.

“Thanks!” I exclaim, a bit too energetically, and I retreat back to my bench. I don’t feel as if I’ve accomplished anything. Instead, I feel bad for being a spoil sport. And no amount of justification counters the fact that I’m not sure it was important enough for me to say anything. No one was being hurt. It was just a bit of wet sand. So they’ll get a little dirty -- what’s the big deal?

So, to those dads who I made stop, I’m sorry. Hopefully I’ll see you at the playground again, and be able to tell you that in person. And thank you for being out there with your kids, playing on a Sunday. I hope I didn’t spoil it for you.

This is an original NYC Moms Blog Post. Rebecca is a NYC-based personal life coach, change management consultant, actress and mom.

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