My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Parks, parents and pet peeves

The other day, my kids and I made good on a playdate that was all-summer-long-in-the-planning. Since we hit the park on Labor Day, I believe we met some unannounced goal of having a playdate before summer was over. It was a great day, with beautiful weather. We picnicked at this huge park with endless equipment, green space, and even a fabulous splash park.

You know, we were just hanging at the park, something like this… only no teeter-totter and less cartoony. (image from

However, it was very interesting because I got an eyefull of people watching. People watching is fascinating, isn’t it? Especially as a parent. Who among us hasn’t cast a glance at the mother losing her temper in the grocery store (that’s me) or the parent scooting junior into bathroom with a brisk hand (also me)? Everyone out there has his or her own style when it comes to parenting. And it’s personal. Surely, my style is not for all parents–nor would it work for all kids. I mean, come one, it usually doesn’t even work for my own kids. That being said, I thought I might have a chat with a hypothetical parent out there.

Dear Park Parent,

We are at a park together, enjoying the day and letting our kids frollick and play. On a good day, I can tolerate all sorts of behavior and chalk it up to, “Aw, everybody has an off day.” However, more and more, I am realizing that I am not a patient person when it comes to certain behaviors. So, can we chat?

Would it be possible for you to keep track of your kiddo? I’m okay with an occasional out-of-sight scenario, but when your daughter followed my kids and their friends (and me and another adult!) to the far reaches of a huge park, I got a bit concerned. Did you have any idea that she had walked about a quarter of a mile from where you sat? Do you have first-hand knowledge that I’m a safe person for her to walk off with? (I mean, I am, but how would you know?) I really became alarmed when I observed your daughter hanging out with the rather odd man who had pulled up a lawn chair next to the playground and was allowing kids to hold his parrot and check out his lizard. Your daughter might be a budding zoologist, or maybe she’s about to be kidnapped–let’s hope it’s the former!

Secondly, can you try teaching your darling child some basic manners? Your daughter picked up my daughter’s yogurt tube and claimed it for her own, then picked up my other daughter’s juice box and quenched her thirst. (Which was odd, since I saw all those Chick Fil-A wrappers on your blanket.) Additionally, she continued to try to walk off with my daughter’s friend’s toy after we’d repeatedly asked her not to. We even caught her going through our belongings to look for said toy after we’d walked away from our stuff. Persistence is amazing, but maybe you could channel that energy into soccer or stamp collecting, not petty larceny.

For instance, I think your daughter looked something like this. (from tumblr)

I’m sure to others this must seem petty, and maybe I should have had this conversation with you while I was at the park the other day. I realize that “it takes a village” and all that, but I’d always assumed that it meant that the village steps in for me when I can’t manage it all… not while I sit on the blanket visiting with my peeps. I want to think the best of most people, so I’ll guess that I caught you on an off day. (Only I am pretty sure that’s not true or your daughter wouldn’t be so darn willing to just plop herself down with other families and make herself at home by sitting in strangers’ laps.) In the interest of safety and because you couldn’t beat the former child advocate out of me with a stick, I will tell you that children who show no fear around strangers are bound to be taken advantage of by the wrong person. Please love your child enough to take the proper care of her before she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Yours in sincere parenting support,


*I’d welcome any and all critiques and thoughts on this letter. Perhaps you have written a similar letter. (I just hope it isn’t to your next-door neighbor.)


6 Comments so far
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Comment by RFL

Yep, beyond scary. There is such a thing as “under-protective.”

Comment by jaymers

I know people like this. When your kids are playing, they always expect you to be the one on duty.

Comment by memyselfandkids

It is a rather rampant problem, isn’t it? I guess I’d rather be the kid’s caretaker than have the guy with the lizard watch after her. Thanks for the comment.

Comment by jaymers

Dear Jayme –
Perhaps we could write a series of letters together? I have had such similar incidents and it drives me BATTY. The “retired” social worker in me gets called back on duty more often than it should. I don’t claim to be the perfect parent…but seriously….

Comment by Jessica

Amen. Let’s get to work on those letters. The sooner we do that, the sooner I won’t have to deal with this b.s.

Comment by jaymers

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