Don't Judge Me For Playing With My Kid, And I Won't Judge You For Not

by R.F. Dietz
Originally Published: 

I know that free-range parenting is all the rage, and I get it. I really do. But free range parenting isn’t an option for me right now. I didn’t wake up possessing some big burning desire to helicopter my kid … he’s obliged me. He misses me while I’m at work and he wants to play with me when we head to the park after pickup. Plus, he’s a freaking toddler! I didn’t even know I was a helicopter parent until it was pointed out to me that unless I’m sitting on the sidelines, I’m annoying all the non-choppers at the local park.

I would LOVE to play bench warmer … but my 2-year-old won’t have it. I try. “Mom, get off the seat, come here! Get down!” He barks, tugging at my leg once my ass finally meets the seat. “Ugh,” I sigh internally. I’d much rather catch up on my separate existence for a bit, and I’d so prefer to observe his activities from afar, but no. I’m the fun mom whose participation is demanded. Why can’t my presence be enough? I’m jealous of you, benchy.

You see, Dads are typically stereotyped as the fun parents. Dads are the wild, the rough, the eternal children. But in my family, I’m that fool. And it’s all fun and games until you’re being dragged off the bench by a 2-year-old following a full day of work at the office because your son wants to put sand down your shirt.

But so you know, bench-warming momma, I’m not watching your kid. At all. You don’t have to worry about me judging you because I couldn’t care less about your child testing her boundaries. If she falls, that’s on you, girlfriend. I let my kid fall all the time without acknowledging it. OK, that’s not true; I usually laugh while pointing out the obvious: “Did you fall?” Hahaha!

It must be nice to sit around at the park, shooting the shit with other moms like yourself, while I run up and down participating in tot activities. But before you judge me for my involvement, just know that the only way I can get through said activities is to get into them. So yeah, I have fun. And yes, you’ll see me acting like a 2-year-old, roaring down slides and coaxing my son to “just come on!” across the bridge.

But you need not worry about my involvement hindering my kid’s social skills. He’s got skills, trust me. He’s in preschool from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., 5 days a week. He even has a steady girlfriend whom he kisses goodbye each day (what up, Annabelle!). So when we are at the park together, he wants to play with his mom. He thinks I’m fun. And you know who else thinks I’m fun? YOUR KID.

Your kid starts out watching us, curiously feeling me out and deciding whether I’m a threat, a freak, or just an oversized kid. (I’m all three.) She slowly inches near us, and before I know it, I’m playing with your kid, too. The only reason I keep looking up to meet your eye is that I don’t want you to think I’m some sick predator.

So, let’s do each other a favor and show a little more acceptance. I’m not trying to ruin your park experience by playing amongst the children, and I’m certainly not judging your position on the bench. I’m actually envious of your mini-break — lord knows we all need one. So don’t judge me, either. For whatever reason, kids think I’m fun and they won’t get off my back until I’m on it (literally), pretending to fall down. (Falling down is kind of hilarious, after all.)

Entertaining your kids wasn’t part of my plan, but it certainty kept them out of your hair, didn’t it? Yeah, you’re welcome. You and I are actually better friends than you think. So save me a spot?

Related post: Helicopter Moms, You’re Ruining It for Everyone Else

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