Observing at the Park

I play tennis weekly at the park, and the courts are right next to the playground. We watch kids and parents come and go, kids play, fall down, get up, cry, and all the other things that go on at the park. Today I watched an older american car drive up and park, I man got out and called a couple of names that I didn’t hear, and kids didn’t come running. He waited a minute or two, and called again, and said “I have presents”.

This still didn’t bring the kids running, but it did give a strong hint to the situation. Eventually 2 kids, probably 4 and 6 years old came over, and the guy handed out the toys he’d brought, and walked over to the playground. I didn’t see much of the playground, or I would have lost the set considerably worse than I actually did, but I did see them about 20 minutes later, pack the kids up in the car. The mom got in the car as well, but there didn’t appear to be any great affection between the adults. She waited on the sidewalk while he buckled the kids into their car seats. It was a 2 door, so it was a fairly involved process.

Watching the whole little scene play out, it made me realize how sensitive I’ve become to divorced parents, and kid hand-offs. I realized that this situation happens all over, every day. It’s the majority of kids that have what my kids call, “a schedule”. Mom’s house and Dad’s house. At the kids school, they don’t talk about parents being married, or together, or divorced or apart, it’s “Does he have a schedule?”, and the kids know what that means. Two houses to go to.

I like to think of myself as a good parent, or at least a thoughtful one, but I realize that our hand-offs could be better. We somewhat inadvertently planned hand-off’s to happen during school, so she drops them off, and I pick them up, or the other way around. We managed to avoid awkward hand-off’s by avoiding hand-off’s all together. They do happen on school vacations, and other times, but us parents can go weeks without going through what this couple and their kids went through at the park today.

I could be wrong, and he could be the boyfriend, or he could be their Dad, and he was just on a trip, but I guess you usually don’t meet at the playground if you’re coming back from a trip, and the kids are usually happier to see you.

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