#Badmom strikes again, and this time she’s not here to talk about how she’s gonna read a magazine instead of hovering over her child. She’s not here to defend her choice of reading material or launch into a rant about how she intends to raise her kid with a healthy and shameless view of sex.
No, she is here to talk about something else entirely. It’s still a topic brought on by a comment from a fellow playground adult, but this one came from an unexpected source.
Lemme set the stage for you:
This afternoon my boyfriend and I took my toddler to the park. Mol went running off to join the other kids the second her feet hit the ground. She can’t stay away from groups of children, she’s so crazy extroverted. I am not the parent from whom she inherited that trait, so I settled onto a bench with a magazine and dark sunglasses, hoping the other parents would recognize these as the uniform of the “please don’t talk to me” mom. Jordan is the hoverer of the two of us, so he watched my daughter ceaselessly as she ran around the playground, climbing everything and giving other kids high-fives.
Then she discovered the slide. Ah, the siren call of the slide, when it is that much longer than you are tall. Mol doesn’t like following the flow, so of course she started climbing up the slide, rather than taking the ladder. Cool. She’s a little monkey.
When she was about halfway up the plastic mountain, two older girls appeared at the top, wanting to slide down. They sat calmly, just watching Molly make progress. Jordan, however, didn’t. He started to stand up. “We should get her out of the way.”
“They aren’t going to hurt her” I assured him. “They see her. They’ll wait.”
“But they want to slide down and she’s in the way.” Bless his heart. This guy loves my baby girl so much, and he’s easily 100x more of a helicopter with her than I am. I put my hand on his arm and convinced him to sit.
“She has just as much right to play there as they do.”
She has just as much right. She’s little, but she has just as much right.
The world will do a fine job of teaching my daughter not to take up space. She’ll be crowded on the subway by manspreaders. She’ll have trouble claiming her place in the business world. She’ll find she struggles to get equal airtime in nearly every interaction with men.
So no, I’m not going to move her off the slide. I’m not going to start teaching her she has to make space for other people. I’m not going to instill in her, from this fragile age, that she should put her rights aside to accommodate other people when she is harming no one and doing nothing wrong.
I’ll teach my daughter to be safe, and I’ll teach her to be polite. But on the playground, I’m going to let her take up whatever space she wants, and no big kids will die from being forced to take turns with her much littler self.
One day I hope the same impulse that compels her to climb up the down slide will bloom into creative and world-changing drive. And on that day, I’ll hope she’ll be assertive and brave, taking up as much space as she needs to be herself.