Premature Naughtification

I knew trouble was brewing when I heard this ring out across the playground:

“No No No No NO NO NO NO NO!

It wasn’t a terrible-twokin shouting, either — it was a mom, and pretty clearly a working parent challenged by a summer daycare break.

Boobaby was inching up the steps to the safe, waist-high slide; an almost-four-year old was swinging on the bar at the top. Boo clapped and looked set on trying some bar-swinging herself once she reached the summit.

That’s when No-No-No Mom stormed up, clamshell phone still open, as we’d clearly interrupted her conversation.

“Bad Girl! You’ve got to watch out for the little baby!” she said. “No swinging!”

I appreciate it when the parents of older kids look out for us — I really do — but No-No-No Mom was being, well, ridiculous. Boo was safely distant, I could make sure she didn’t get clobbered, and “Bad” Girl was swinging very modestly. Nonetheless, No-No-No Mom used the ferocious tone that ought to be reserved for cases in which your child is about to leap blindfolded into a pit of needles and glass shards.

First things first:

If it’s not an emergency, don’t shout, because a) you don’t need to, b) it’s scary, and c) if you shout about little stuff, you have nowhere to escalate when actual danger crops up.

This isn’t solely a working parent mistake, incidentally. One of the stay-at-home dads is exactly the same: he ignores his daughter most of the time, unless he’s shouting and setting bizarre limits. And plenty of the working parents are circumspect before they step in to correct normal play.

At the risk of repeating myself, the ones who get it right pay attention to their kids. Zoned-out parents misapply discipline and miss learning moments. ZOPs have always annoyed me, but today it was actually heartbreaking. This poor mom lost a wonderful moment with her “Bad” Girl on the slide. How many more does she miss? And why?

As No-No-No Mom returned to her phone conversation, the only answer I could come up with was that she looked … bored.

And that nearly made me cry.