My three year-old son has a ride-on Audi. (I kind of can’t believe I just typed that sentence, but, well, because grandparents.) Anyway, last week we brought the car to a local park so my son could drive it. Of course, the only way to the circular “driving” track was straight through the playground. By the time my son reached the track, a pack of children followed close behind him, begging for turns. With the exception of one child our family knows very well, I said no.
This went badly.
A couple of kids continued to trail my son, and one complained to his mother, who soon approached me and asked: “What are your rules on playground sharing?”
It was a little passive-aggressive and I can’t say I appreciated her forcing the issue, but it got me thinking: where is the line, exactly, between polite sharing and playground communism?
There exists no adult corollary to the playground, so it’s hard to look to our own lives for guidance. Could you imagine if grown-ups were expected to give random strangers “turns” on their bicycles or mobile phones? It would be weird times a million.
In this way, the playground is a completely unique public space. Communal play is the point, and though it may not be part of our adult experience, sharing with strangers is integral to playground culture. And by and large, our family’s policy is to share openly. We only bring items to the park that we’re prepared to share, leaving expensive and sentimental toys at home. Simple.
Except when it’s not. The park is the biggest, safest place for my son to drive his (admittedly) very extravagant toy. What, then, should be our policy? I did a basic cost-benefit analysis: if a random kid crashes the car, my son’s nicest toy gets broken and that kid’s parents could consider me at fault if their precious snowflake gets hurt. Whatever small upside may have come from sharing would be completely negated by these MAJOR downsides.
So was I wrong? This incident has stuck with me, leaving me wondering whether I’d done the right thing or kinda overreacted. What’s your family’s policy about playground sharing? Are you all in or do you think forced playground sharing has gone too far?