kids

"I was at the playground recently when another mum started screaming at me."

So there’s this playground near me that always has a queue for the slippery dip. I’m talking a real queue, a queue that can take 10 minutes to reach the front, just for that 0.79 seconds of pure joy to slide down.

The thing with this slippery dip is that it has a rope ladder. Tiny kids start climbing, full of confidence, but then get hit by nerves when they get near the top and have to pull themselves up onto the platform. They stop there, wailing, clinging to the rope, frozen in terror. Good times.

Anyway, I was at the playground the other day, pretty keen to get home for lunch, and my daughter was waiting semi-patiently in the queue when three boys rushed up and pushed in at the front.

“Oh, hey, there’s a line here, guys,” I told them. “There’s the end of it. Thank you!”

The boys trotted off to the end of the line. If they hadn’t, I would have just left it, but most kids will listen to a firm, reasonable adult.

Then a little girl toddled up and tried to push in at the front.

“You too, sweetheart,” I said to her. “End of the line.”

At that point, the girl’s mum, who I hadn’t noticed before, started screaming at me.

“What are you, a line nazi?”

She kept screaming at me as she grabbed her daughter and stalked over to the other side of the playground.

I just stood there. A line nazi? Me?

Look, I don’t know. Maybe this woman and her little girl had been hanging around nearby for a while. But the girl wasn’t in the line. And I was hungry, and I wanted to get home and have lunch.

POST CONTINUES BELOW: The book that will teach your children tolerance. 

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There are unwritten playground rules. If you’re on the swing and there’s someone else waiting their turn, you don’t spend too long on there. You only have one go on the flying fox and then you hand it to the person standing behind you. If there’s a baby on the roundabout, you don’t push it too fast. Oh, and if there’s a queue, you go to the end of it. Always.

These are the rules that all parents try to instill in their kids. Am I right?

Playgrounds aren’t just about eating sand and grazing your knees and making yourself so dizzy that you throw up. Oh no. Playgrounds are also about learning interpersonal skills.

At some point in your life, you need to learn consideration for other people. As an adult, if you try to push in front of other people to order your chai latte, you’re not going to make yourself very popular.

So when I ask kids politely to go to the end of the line, I’m doing it for their own good. (As well as mine.)

Am I a line nazi? Okay, maybe.

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