I felt her eyes boring into the back of my head. And yet, I didn't take my toddlers out of the only two baby swings in the playground. The mother began circling in a not-so-subtle attempt to get the rear ends of my twins out of the swings. While her little girl truly ached to place her bum-bum on one of those two swings, I wasn't inclined to immediately help her out. This mother had never witnessed Abbey and Jonah in the throes of melodramatic agony—especially when they are taken off the swings before they're ready. It's very unpleasant. If she'd ever seen one of these events in person, she would've hurried her child away, fearful that she'd provoke one of these scenes and permanently scar her little one's psyche.
When it comes to parental playground etiquette, in a nutshell, there is none. It's a battle of the fittest. I've learned that the hard way. I've tried being nice. It doesn't work. I always lose. It's like CBS's Survivor show without the palm trees and TV cameras. Whoever emerges from the playground last wins. For a change, I wanted to be the survivor.
One thing is for sure—my kids can sit on the swings for a solid 20 minutes before the thought of moving on to other playground equipment even crosses their little minds. If I so much as prematurely ask them if they'd like to go onto something else, I get a withering pair of glares followed by a cantankerous, "NO!" And should I attempt to remove them from the swings so another kid can have a turn—trying to instill a sense of fair play and courtesy into my small charges—everyone had best brush the lint off their earplugs.
More trips to the local park than I care to think about have ended in 10 minutes or less. If I see other children occupying the swings, I might as well just keep driving. And when another kid wants to use the swings while mine are on them, forget it. If I try to remove them (I have to take them both out because I can't leave one unattended), they go into desperate convulsions, wrapping their arms around the chains and twisting their legs so they are impossibly wedged, making me have to physically disengage them from the swing while they yelp. In the process, I wind up looking like Mommy Dearest sans the glamorous wardrobe and the wire hanger. Once I extract them from the swings, they typically drop to the ground, clutch the wood chips, and purse their lips tightly. The sea lionesque roars usually follow, drawing attention from people who must assume I'm somehow harming them. This of course results in all of my sweat glands opening up and simultaneously oozing sweat.