Friday, August 15, 2008

McDonald's Playground

Tonight after supper Todd and I took Grace to McDonalds to eat ice cream and visit the playground. Since the last time we visited, I noticed that several new signs were posted on the walls. About every 3 ft. all over the walls and at the front counter were signs in bright neon that said, "All children must wear socks on the playground" and "Parents must stay with children at all times in the playground."

When we entered the playground area, there were about 15-20 kids playing. After Grace's usual 10-15 minutes of timidness, she started climbing and playing with the other kids. I noticed there were a group of 3-4 boys that were pretty wild, pushing and shoving, using language that I would rather not repeat. I also noticed that they were barefooted. Later, I noticed that their parents were sitting on the other side of the restaurant, buried in their laptop computers, out of sight of the playground.

In my opinion, it is no coincidence that the boys whose parents did not respect the rules were the boys who were displaying inappropriate behaviors. Even though rules may seem "silly" or "inconvenient", parents send a very clear message when they choose to obey (or not obey) societal rules. When parents choose not to obey rules, they are sending the message to their children that it is OK to not obey rules and do whatever you want to do. I saw it time and time again when I worked in the schools. Over the years of having parent conferences about children who were misbehaving, the school secretary would often interrupt the meeting to ask the parent to move their vehicle. They had parked in the fire lane or handicapped parking!

All this to say, kids notice everything we do. Whether or not we respect societal rules sends a subliminal message to our kids about how to respect authority.