My girls received scooters as a surprise present from their father. I took one look at said present and declared it ridiculous: whose 2-1/2 year-olds can ride scooters? Well, as it turns out, mine. They are obsessed and really quite good, soliciting comments at the park ranging from "How old are those girls?" to "My son is an uncoordinated wimp compared to them" to "What f@#*ing mother doesn't make her kids wear helmets?"
Um, me. I don't remember ever wearing a helmet and I'm fine, thanks. Okay, maybe not fine, but not dead either.
But these scooters, these seemingly unproblematic vehicles, are giving me a migraine and might land me in prison. Because every kid at the park wants to try them. WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION.
My husband, a staunch conservative (don't hold it against me) has labeled the forced sharing at our parks as "socialism bordering on communism." I'm a bit more moderate in my political views, but still, I'm starting to agree with him on the communal sharing mentality that permeates city parks. Hey, here's a thought: You want my kids to share their cool new scooters -- bring something equally as cool and maybe they'll be willing to swap for a while.
Because here's the thing: I lug a bunch of shit via a double stroller everywhere I go. I look like the damn Sanford and Son pick-up truck coming ("Ya big dummy!"). I have two kids, two scooters, two helmets (that go unworn but I bring just for show), a soccer ball, a basketball and various little accessories I need not name. Tons of these moms saunter into the park, towing their kid, a Starbucks and nothing else. DO YOU WANT TO SHARE YOUR SKINNY VANILLA LATTE WITH ME, BITCH?
Probably not. And then we get stalked. And these moms, these people I swear I might kill one day, sip on their coffee which I don't have the luxury of having because my cup-holders are filled with lollipops and matchbox cars their kids want to steal, and they let their children maul us.
One such mom who wasn't wearing a bra, probably because she is banging her gardner, loudly announced to her friend for my benefit: "If you don't want to share, you shouldn't bring it to a public park." Says the person who brought nothing but silicone, caffeine and a toddler with her. Then she went back to her iPhone where she changed her Facebook status to "Looking like a whore while ignoring my kid at the park."
We shouldn't bring our stuff to the park if we didn't want to share... Except. Except we live in a city, and don't have a backyard. So if my kids can't ride their scooter at the park in peace, where will they ride it? (I have one suggestion that isn't polite and it's between the enormous crevasse on the chest of that women's poorly done breast implant surgery.)
So, listen, I get that you should share chalk at the park. But are my kids required to share their scooters or are other kids required to share high ticket items like bikes? It's becoming a major problem and I'm becoming a major ass about it. One girl of about 5 followed us around today (we finally left to go elsewhere) telling me, "I WILL take a turn on that scooter!" I told her while I admire her pertinacity it wasn't happening. (I borrowed that line from Dave Barry's literary agent who turned down a manuscript of mine years ago. Who knew rejection would come in so handy?)
Am I crazy? Am I right in thinking my girls have a right to decline advances on their stuff in a public venue with people we don't know AND DON'T WANT TO KNOW? Honestly, I don't like being accosted by kids while parents stand by in oblivion.
My sister and her kids came to visit recently. They had cool children's (but real) digital cameras and one mom let her daughter take the cameras FROM OUR STROLLER and use up the entire disk. The mom not only encouraged the child to take the cameras, she showed her HOW TO USE THEM. When my sister confiscated them from these people we didn't know, the 4-year-old said with hostility: "Why don't you want to share?" Like my sister had done something wrong! As the mom gave us a dirty look!
Seriously, I've had strange children rifle through my diaper bag for snacks while her mother looked on, had toys grabbed right from our hands as the father cooed "Buddy, let's give back their Thomas the Train" but let his kid run around with it for 10 minutes and had a mom allow her son snatch a banana from my child's hands, eat half, then coax him into giving it back with a "c'mon baby, let's share the snack" all without apology. When her son wouldn't oblige, this woman then returned the chomped on banana saying in a little kid's voice, "Thank you for sharing!"Except we didn't share. He stole it. I'm thinking of walking into a 7-11, making myself a Slurpy, eating half and handing it to the clerk with a cheerful, "Thanks for sharing!" and see how that plays out.
To put this in perspective for mothers: Suppose you and I are on a plane. You had the foresight to buy the current issue of Us Weekly to see who Jennifer Aniston is screwing and if she's pregnant. I, on the other hand, dawdled, showed up late and didn't have time to stop at the newsstand. Mid-flight, I get bored of reading the plastic-coated emergency evacuation procedures. I grab your magazine and start reading it. "WHY DON'T YOU WANT TO SHARE??!!!" I protest when you ask for it back, making you feel like YOU did something wrong. See my point?
Is it just Chicago??? I am not a disciplinarian. Lord knows. But I don't let my girls' touch other people's stuff, steal shit and pester other kids. Advice? Counsel? Promises to visit me in prison when I snap?
PS -- Whenever we break out a camera these days, the girls immediately put their hands in their mouth and scream "Funny face!" I have no idea whatsoever where this originated. It was funny like the first 50 times. When as adults they ask why there are no photos of them from age 2 to 16, I plan on screaming at them, "Funny face!"
PPS - Remind me to tell you about the nanny who shows up at the park every day at dinner time with a Dairy Queen sundae to taunt the children. Tomorrow I plan to tell her to DQ Something Different.