The kids and I went to an indoor playspace tonight. The place is designed so kids can run and play while moms drink a coffee. Its perfect because the kids have fun and the moms get a few minutes of freedom from entertaining them.
Every time we visit this place Mack spends 90% of his time at the train table – along with every other 2-3 year old boy at the place. As can be expected, there are little tiffs and fights over train engines or spots along the table. But, the kids always have fun and no one gets hurt.
When a disagreement arises, I make a point to step back and let Mack work it out. Sometimes he’s the aggressor…sometimes he’s the victim. But, I’ve found that the less I interfere the quicker the resolution. I think its a good lesson for little boys to come to a happy compromise on their own.
Without fail, there’s always at least one mom who takes great offense to the drama at the train table. She looks on in shock as the boys duke it out over Thomas or James or Henry. She doesn’t want her precious boy caught in the middle of such Neanderthal behavior.
Tonight one of the mom’s was especially ridiculous. Her son was a little older than Mack, but whenever Mack turned a corner and said “Excuse me!” to her son she got huffy and flustered. At one point, she crouched down, shielding her son and preventing my Mack from pushing his train past. And she couldn’t have made a more disgusted face just so everyone in the place knew how aghast she was at this little blonde boy’s behavior.
I found the whole interaction to be incredibly amusing. Her son couldn’t have cared less that Mack was cruising by! The kid didn’t think the exchange was unfair or uncalled for, so who was she to interfere?! All I could think while watching the exchange was “HELICOPTER PARENT!”
Kids need to be kids, and as long as no one is getting hurt it won’t be the end of the world if they get in an argument. If we want them to grow up to be independent adults, we need to give them tastes of independence now. Letting a group of little boys maneuver the politics of a train table seems like an awfully good place to start.
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