It’s great to see parents at the playground with their little ones. I love to go with mine and watch them run, climb, slide, giggle, and most importantly, wear themselves out.

There are different types of playground parents. Of course, most are welcome…and all are judged. I am missing a few types, such as creepy spy guy that watches every other kid’s actions but their own, the iParent who’s cell phone is the real baby, and feeder mom…you know, the one that doles out enough snacks for an entire elementary school and you’re perplexed because she’s only got one kid. There are others, but I’ve listed the most common.

The first kind of playground parents are the foreigners. They’re the ones that don’t bat an eyelash watching their toddler climb to the top of the swing set and do a triple pike somersault onto the sand below…head first or not. It’s not that they don’t care. They just think that lessons learned can best be had through experience. It’s a tough kind of love. They randomly yell one or two words at their child in the native tongue, and never seem overly concerned when no response is received.

The second style of parents are the squatters. Similar to the foreigners, squatters watch their progeny a bit more closely. They’re the parents that fill up the seats near the merry-go-round and relax while their kids are jetting through the playground burning off the morning’s banana pancakes. These parents don’t get too worked up and are very keen on sitting through all play activity save for a little one’s loss of tooth or limb. I used to wonder why these parents wouldn’t engage much with their kids at play, but now I get it. It’s not that they don’t care about spending every waking moment with their cubs. They do. These parents seize the opportunity to replenish their energy stores. And the tot lot is a good way to rest big feet while simultaneously exhausting little ones. Squatters are always on the lookout for a path of least resistance…or a path to an empty park bench. Often, members of this group will be squatting while iParenting their phones.

The third kind of playground parent is the helicopter variety. These parents tend to position themselves less than a hair’s length away from their delicate offspring. At. All. Times. To the untrained eye, these parents are so lovingly attentive to their hatchlings. With smiles plastered on their face (which could be easily mistaken for grimaces), these adults not so forcefully jockey other moms and babies away so that contact between themselves and their fragile halfling is never lost. Sure they’re laughing with their child to the casual onlooker, but internally they’re terrified that contact with the rubber mat or mulch pit will render their toddler snafued.

My wife thinks that I’m the helicopter dad. She’s told me that multiple times. It used to get me upset, until I really started judging watching other parents in action.  I’d just rather have a trip to the ice cream parlor than to the hospital. (Does anyone say parlor anymore?) If I can get both my kids to double digits without either one breaking a bone or losing a limb, it’s the basketball equivalent of never dropping a pass or losing the ball. Ever. If I could do it for 10 more years, I’d secure my spot in the record books for the greatest dad ever.

I’ve got friends with damaged kids under 5 (i.e. broken bones, lost teeth, severed tendons, etc.), but I’ve been blessed with big hands and the agility of a flying cockroach. I can be a child preserving (term used not in the taxidermal way) champion. My mind’s not quite right, but everyone must trade something for superhuman athleticism…and I followed suit. I say “Show me a brain that can hit a half-court jump shot? Exactly! It’s all in the hands!”

Early on, my game was protecting Mushie and Worm from harming themselves. Now they’ve almost completely changed strategy to work on maiming each other. On the plus side, I can stick to my kids like Elmer’s glue to carpet. My footwork and child handling skills have improved tremendously. I’m heading for the record books…anyone want to bet against me?


Jumping and Falling can  be seen as the same dangerous act…

Is this what they mean when they say "Catch the Baby?"

Is this what they mean when they say “Catch the Baby?”

Gavin – 39; Honeydaddy – 23 (My dad skills are growing! Ha ha ha!)