Last week I had it out at the playground; I had enough and I don’t care if I came across like a Karen!
I took the playground back!
The neighborhood playground was locked for over two months from Covid-19. When it opened back up my kids were so excited. We went a few times when no one was there. As the weeks went on they were asking all day when they could finally go to the playground to play. We started going each night for about half an hour during our walks. That was when the “big kids” started showing up or would already be there before we could get there.
If they were there I didn’t let me kids play. There were always at least four and up to 6-8 teens; probably around the ages of 12 to 14.
DON’T get me wrong; it is cool to see kids that age outside playing!
However, this is where it started to go downhill.
They showed up every day and would not leave.
They would be there for hours. Like 4 hours!
They started leaving their bikes inside the playground, where you would enter. So, 4 to 8 adult sized bikes just laying down or leaning on the playground equipment. So, now that equipment is not usable and my kids cannot run over there because your bikes are in the way or they might fall down on them if they get bumped. Mind you; everyone else parks their bikes and strollers along the fence on the outside!
They would not move or “share”. So, they would be playing on the main part with all the slides. Climbing, jumping and chasing each other or just sitting. If my kids wanted to slide they wouldn’t move unless I asked.
Add to that…
Damage- the one picnic table top was broken and left metal exposed to everyone else.
Litter- trash left on the mulch; mostly water bottles but whatever they bring they leave. We have at least 2 trash cans but doesn’t seem like they use them. It also seems like they can bring a bag of water but can’t take the empty water bottles with them.
Language-inappropriate words and inappropriate play language. So, rough words and play with each other. Not how I would allow my kids to play.
Attitude-refusing to move, knocking down smaller kids, sitting on playground equipment so others can not use it.
I stood up to a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds. LOL
I lectured them about what they were doing and how it was affecting the other smaller children. They were difficult and argumentative. I just kept working on my point, that smaller children in 1st grade are not going to speak up or stand up to teens that are the size of adults. I spoke my peace and stood up for all the kids.
We went about a week before we saw any of them again. Then when three of them came back, they were nice and more respectful. Now, I know they have been there. Because they still leave behind their trash.
So, my next move. I started talking to every parent that came to the playground.
One father who had problems with the same teens because they knocked down his daughter multiple times and he had to speak to them.
I continue to mention the issue to anyone who came by to let them know that we all want to play. We can all play when we are kind and respectful.
You know that lady that goes crazy for her playground; yeah, I’m that lady. I took the playground back. I am happy that I did.
UPDATE: And just to support all kids playing outside. Those teens (big kids) they found new activities, riding bikes in the neighborhood, playing soccer and I even saw them running at another park! Is that a win-win?!