We have a toddler in the house. Specifically our granddaughter, who is 18 months old, right about three feet tall, on the slender side, and goes Full Speed All Of The Time.
We refer to it as 'Very. Busy.'
She's a climber (our little monkey) and she wants it all and she wants it now, as most toddlers tend to be. We usually try to burn off some of this excess energy and determination (which helps everyone in the house have a reasonable bedtime, ha ha) by going to the park just beyond our back fence, or by playing for hours on end in the back yard. Preferably both, several times, in any given day.
That's not always possible, especially since we can't seem to go more than a few hours without rain lately. So, what's a tired gramma to do on a rainy day?
Sometimes we go to the mall and I let her run while I scurry along behind (hey, that's exercise for me, too!!). Sometimes we go to the grocery store with all of the cool stuff to look at and taste and people to talk to (and a steering wheel to spin around as she pretends to drive). Sometimes I knock over grandpa's computer chair and she climbs up and over and around and through it, then we make a fort/tent with her favorite blanket, and we wrestle, and stuff like that.
Tuesday night, though, she was wound up after being cooped up all day, Grandpa needed his chair, I had no desire to spend an hour or more literally running around the mall, and we didn't need groceries.
So we went to McDonald's to play in the tubes with other kids.
She was fine, happy and squeeing and going up, down, and all around the kiddy tubes and slides, all while stopping at our table after every circuit to get a drink and something to munch on (my girl loves her unsweetened iced tea and apple slices!!) but some of the other kids... Not so much.
First, I'd like to say that I know boys will be boys and some climbing is gonna happen. When we got there, there were eleven other kids. Eleven. Two, a boy and a girl of, oh, 6-8 years old, were brother and sister and kept trying to figure out how to get past the fencing to behind the tube-maze. Their mother wouldn't let them do more than make feeble attempts, but she did let them climb a little on open areas. Mostly they played and laughed and were just fine. Regular kids.
The other nine? Not so much.
They were there in a group. Four moms, nine kids, seven of which were boys. One little boy was just walking, and there was a girl of about 12, but the rest were spaced roughly between 5 and 10 years old.
These kids, other than the barely walking infant and the nearly pubescent girl, climbed over EVERYTHING. Two of them repeatedly got on the top of the tube contraption, back beyond the fencing to 'off limits areas', and got themselves stuck in places kids obviously weren't supposed to go.
I really didn't mind the climbing much, and, like I said, boys will be boys and they do stuff like that, but, well, when an area is locked, fenced, and marked 'off limits', I tend to think the parents ought to discourage their little darlings from going there. Or their kids being about 20 feet in the air walking on a tube or pipe. But what do I know?
I could let the climbing and generalized naughtiness slide without too much of a second thought, but four of these seven boys (the four biggest) seemed to be trying their best to disassemble the whole dang thing. They jumped up and down on weak points (like a propeller on one of the pod areas). They tugged on the netting, swinging from it, obviously trying to get it to pop out of the bolts and fastenings (but if it had, they would have fallen about fifteen feet). They lay down inside of the tubes and kicked against the inside of view ports over and over and over trying to pop them loose. They kicked, pulled, jumped, wriggled, and slammed everything they possibly could, preferably if it meant they could get into a restricted area to do it.
All the while the mothers sat and watched and did nothing, until the little girl (she was maybe 6??) got stuck in a fenced off area about 10' up in the air. What did her mother do? Marched over to where her daughter was crying for help and told her to jump because it wasn't like she was gonna break her leg or anything. Then she went back to the table and her conversation with her friends.
And the barely walking infant managed to climb all the way into the tubes and get himself up at the top, but unable to find his way back out. They left him up there whimpering while they all walked to the counter to get ice cream.
Maybe I'm weird or old fashioned, but I cannot fathom allowing my kid to be willfully destructive like these kids were. I can't imagine letting a baby who's obviously too small to be in the tubes without assistance be in the tubes without assistance. And I also can't imagine leaving all of my supper mess (including spilled drinks, smeared ketchup, thrown food, and I dunno how many wrappers and napkins) just sitting there on the tables for someone else to clean up.
They all were nice enough to my granddaughter, gave her space to do her thing, smiled at her, told her 'hi' and other friendly things, and a couple of the kids even talked to me as they gleefully tried to jump on the propeller until it broke. So they weren't all bad, just... physically out of control, and no one seemed to give a damn.