Thursday, August 16, 2007

Indoor Play areas....GRRRRR!

My 9-yr-old niece is in town for a couple days, so with the weather being typical Western Oregon (read Rain), my mom & I decided to take her to Washington Square with a promised stop at one of her favorite shops, Build-A-Bear.

All was well, and she got a couple of cute things for her hippo, a previous Bday gift from her wonderful aunt & uncle ;-) Then we decided to walk around a little bit, did some shopping at one of my favorite shops, Gymboree, and then since Kyra had spent a lot of time in her stroller, we decided to venture down to the indoor play area by JC Penneys.

Here's a little background info: Prior to Kyra arriving on the scene, I always told myself whenever I walked by that area in the mall, "I would never take MY child into that Germ Factory, are you kidding?"

Then one time we met our friend Laura, who has two little boys, there for a play-date, and she assured me as long as you had the handy-dandy Purell for afterwards, you were good to go. "Besides", she said, "they've gotten more sickness-ick from other places (that I won't name to protect the 'innocent'), than ever from here".

So fast-forward to today's visit. My niece desperately wanted to go in and play with Kyra. However, when you first walk into the area, there's a height-requirement sign that says you need to be below this height to play in here. Although my niece is not overly tall for her age, she's obviously taller than the 42" cut-off.

Now here's the GRRR factor: I look around inside the play area, and there are at least 5 children that are a good 6"-1ft over the allowable height. And yes, their parents are right there. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for physical activity for kids--It's much better than letting them rot away in front of the TV or computer. However, when they're in that small of a space, with little ones Kyra's age, and some others who are barely crawling, you're just asking for trouble.

And to top it all off, how do we tell my niece, "I'm sorry, but you can't go in there", when she sees other kids just like her, already in there? Do you send dirty looks to the parents who have obviously thrown the rules right out the window? Or do you wait until their child tramples your little one, and then go into attack mode?

While I was standing there watching Kyra, a father walked up with his 2 kids who were unfortunately just a little bit too tall. You could see the disappointment in the kids' faces, and I said to him, "Yeah, it's hard because it doesn't seem to matter to some other people". He said, "It's okay, because these places make me kind of uncomfortable anyway--too many kids in too little of a space. It's just asking for a problem."

I know I can't hover over Kyra all the time, and having her navigate her way around other kids is good for her. However, at what point do you say, "Enough is enough?"

Donning my Super-protector Mommy Cape,