Ah, swings and roundabouts. You can’t get your kid to go on them, but once they’re on – they never want to go home.
This is my daily playground saga: I drop my daughter off at nursery. She cries. I tell her I’ll be back after lunch then kiss her hand and ask her to put it in her pocket. It’s kinda our thing. Well, our thing that I stole… like an artist. Thank you Austin Kleon, for allowing me to copy without guilt. When I pick her up, she’s at the window banging on the glass with her far-from-fresh fingers. Cue guilt. Cue making up for it. Cue “Let’s go to the park!”
The playground is wonderful – for all of five minutes for me, and forever for her. How to entice her to go home? I’ve looked around for moms to model off, and this is what I see:
1) The Lifestyle Mommy – This mommy likes to leave with her dignity (and her daughter’s) dignity intact. No empty threats here, as she believes in keeping the peace and life being all about peace, love, and happiness. She’s composing her next beautiful Insta post anyway. She will let her child play an extra 45 minutes because she’s barely watching and who cares if she has to reschedule her doctor’s appointment again. Not a biggie. She knows that she has bigger battles ahead when she dishes up zucchini soup for dinner or gets sued by her kid in 15 years for breach of privacy. Key mantra: Don’t look now, I’m expanding my platform and featuring you in my next blog.
2) The Negotiator – “If you leave I’ll shower you in gifts and cold hard cash. Promise.” The Negotiator has a schedule to stick to and is vocal about her strategy and distraction tactics in the hopes that their child’s advanced (she would never use the word ‘limited’) sense of reason kicks in and they realize that a bigger win is around the corner. She has tricks up her sleeves, snacks in her pockets, and dangles educational Apps to lure. “Guess who has your favorite pasta dish with melted cheese… yea… it’s the car… and an ice cream in my purse… IF you come NOW!” Key mantra: Help me, help you. (flashback to Jerry Maguire)
3) The Victim – Can be overheard saying, “Don’t you think Mommy is tired?” She voices why and how her back, head and (insert any body part here) hurts or feels as if her toddler is actually her osteopath. She is prone to floods of tears and eventually her kid stares at her with, “I wish mommy would just pop an Advil or six and get her s@#! together” in their eyes. Key mantra: What about meeee?
4) The Truster in the Universe – She is wise. And just. And calmer than the Lifestyle Mommy who is really only cool as a cucumber for the credit of being labeled an “amazing parent.” She knows (somehow… either because she believes in God or because this is her fourth or fifth child) that THIS whatever THIS is, in the moment is really not a big deal. So what if they want to swing for another ten minutes or 50? It is not the end of the world. She has freezer meals at the ready back home anyway. But not saying grace / bedtime affirmations / kiddie meditation though, that’s another story. Key mantra: This too shall pass.
5) The Dictator – “I’m leaving with or without you. Good-bye……..!” No negotiations or five more minutes here. Usually hyped up from too much caffeine and too little sleep (my husband strangely seems to think I fall into this category) she is skilled in the nonchalant grab-and-go technique. Key mantra: I’m the boss, please do get into the car or I will lose it completely.
If any of these archetypes rings a bell, don’t judge yourself too harshly, the truth is getting your child to leave is FRUSTRATING and sometimes it’s better to let them swing a few more minutes, you know, to save yourself a therapy bill later on. Some may call me a pushover but I consider myself a Truster in the Universe. And a Negotiator and yes, a Dictator when I haven’t slept enough.
Which one are you?
*Please note that the personas depicted in this piece are in no way exaggerated and if you come to my park you will see a display of every single one.