One of Matt's colleagues graciously invited our family to her son's birthday party. He was celebrating his 4th birthday at a climbing, sliding, and swinging place. It was a bit out of town, but we knew the kids would enjoy the physical activity.
I've been to these kinds of places before. I know what they are all about:
- Kids screaming
- Kids tattling
- Parents disciplining other people's kids
- Kids crying
Hey, it wasn't about me. My kids would thoroughly enjoy an adventure of their own today, and I had a fresh bottle of Purell in my bag. Another bonus of the venue location - they got to ride on another train line. So the family navigated up to King's Cross/St. Pancras station to get on the First Capital Connect up to the venue.
The layout of the venue was as expected: the climbing structures on one side and tables & seating for parents on the other. The kids quickly doffed their coats and shoes and started playing.
Back to my opening statement - I am not a scientist or psychologist, but I do pay a lot of attention. In the three and a half hours at the party a paradigm shift occurred. Past performance is not indicative to today's adventure.
- Kids screaming - Yes but at a tolerable level on par with their play enjoyment
- Kids tattling - NONE!
- Parents disciplining other people's kids - NONE!
- Kids crying - One girl cried because she got hit by a piece of equipment, but she worked through her tears by herself and returned to playing.
- Germs - duh
Here's my non-medically trained opinion on this - helicopter parenting is an unknown phenomenon on this side of the Atlantic. They are actually almost opposite of this. I have regularly seen parents pushing childless strollers at the mall and museums while their child zips ahead (sometimes a bit too far for my liking). I get the sense that both parent and child have an understanding of each other's location, and both parties are OK with this. A little freedom for the kids is a good thing.
My new list of events that occur at the climbing, sliding, swinging place:
- parents relax with a cappuccino from the cafe
- kids play, play, and come tell mom and dad the amazing feat they just accomplished
- kids work out conflicts or don't have any
- everyone leaves content
- decontamination chamber when you arrive home
I won't say it out loud, but I might actually go back some time.
That is if my Purell stash is full :)