I remember the first time I took Ethan to the mall playground and watched in horror as the big kids climbed up the slide. Sometimes they watched out for the little kids and sometimes they didn't. I was mortified. There are rules. "Up the stairs and down the slide." Even in the days before smart phones and excessive texting, the parents of these kids weren't paying attention. I glared at the big boys. These would probably be the boys that later on would offer my innocent children cigarettes under the bleachers on the football field in high school.
Fast forward to last Friday when I met a group of friends at the National Building Museum to check out their Lego exhibit. We invited one of Ethan's extremely well-behaved friends so I had four kids under the age of six. No problem. Piece of cake. We all know how well I do with three. Ha.
I thought things out ahead of time. I strapped Mason onto my back in a Babyhawk carrier. Limited movement for the Baby in a Lego free play exhibit with tens of thousands of Legos upon which to choke? CHECK!
We arrived and I reached over my shoulder to hand Mason what I thought was a large Lego brick. It was large enough that I wouldn't need to do the Heimlich. Ten minutes later a woman runs up and taps on my arm.
YOUR BABY HAS A LEGO IN HIS MOUTH. IT'S SCARING ME.
She was actually yelling. I mumbled an "oh, um, thanks?" and directed Ethan to reach back behind me and take the Lego out of his mouth. The woman said, "I'll do it" (insert your own idea of her tone and then multiply it by a thousand) and she handed me a slimy Lego. I'm not sure but I think The Baby growled at her. I thought about it.
I could see that The Baby's entertainment was now gone so we all went down to the play area downstairs for kids 2-6. I figured that 3 out of the 4 kids I had were in that age range, so we were good. Except by 2-6 they really meant 0-2. Maybe 0-3. The place was packed with babies.
The three older boys ran into a corner away from the smaller kids and found erector set pieces that they promptly made into weapons. A mother of an underaged toddler glared at me as she said to her son, "Honey, be careful of those boys. THEIR mom lets them play with swords."
Seriously? Did she just say that? Don't get me wrong. I remember the days when I was pretty sure my precious snowflake was going to be ruined by the world, lady. I yanked the erector set pieces out of the kids hands but only because they had somehow figured out how to make them do this projectile thing like arrows. I turned around to find Nathan making a gun out of those huge soft blocks. Across the room I could hear a woman on her cell, bemoaning the big kids who were (gasp) running around in the corner, shooting each other.
My kids got light sabers for Christmas last year from a dear friend who has now been written out of our will and they got their first toy guns in the form of those miniature Lego policemen for their birthdays this year. I don't even let them have water guns (which is cruel since we are rounding out a month of 90+ temperatures). But we all know they watch Star Wars on loop, so it's not like they are experiencing a violence-free life.
I'm not anti-gun per se, but don't judge me because my kids made swords with erector set pieces. It's not like I was over there giving a tutorial on how to make weapons. Everyone knows boys are going to make guns out of sticks or Legos or whatever they can find if their cruel parents refuse to buy them.
I just really hope that when Sword Lady's son picks up her 2 pound hand weights, points them at the neighbor kid and yells, "I'M LUKE THE SKYWALKER" one day and the neighbor kid's mom glares at her, she remembers me.