Parents want to keep their tweens off the streets, but is there a time when they should stop taking them to the playground? Yesterday, we went to a neighborhood park. The structures at the location are intended for young children. At 5 and 2-years-old, my daughter and son can tackle any obstacle offered from climbing the curved bars to walking up its steepest slide.
The place was empty until a dad arrived with his sons, ages 10 and 12. The younger one started plowing through the sand where my son was playing and had my lil guy laughing and introducing himself. A minute later, the tween shouted at my son. When I asked what the problem was, he said, "Is this your kid? I don't want him talking — it bothers me." I encouraged my child to head toward the bridge where he encountered the 12-year-old boy and said, "Hi, friend." before my tot bounced across it. The kid hollered after him, "Did you call me friend, I'm NOT your friend!" While throwing sand or running in front of moving swings is one thing, a friendly soon-to-be preschooler is another. I wasn't about to tell my son that he can't be kind to children on the playground so we left. But, the situation got me thinking — is there a point when kids outgrow the park?