Ever have an experience that should have been exciting, but became stressful because of others’ lack of proper parenting? As you can guess, this is exactly what happened to me and my family this past weekend.
Last Sunday, my husband and I took our two little girls (ages 4 and 2) to a pumpkin farm, and we met up with my best friend and her family. She also has two daughters roughly the same age. When we researched the pumpkin farm online, it looked like an excellent place to take children as there were many opportunities for them to play.
There was a giant pumpkin jumping pillow for kids to jump on, a place to see different kinds of animals, a swing like you would see at a fair that can hold multiple children while they swing around and around, pony rides, playgrounds, giant underground slides, a corn maze, race tracks for kids to race on small bikes, etc. There is at least 40 attractions just for children.
This sounds like a great time, right? Not so much. The kids had fun, but us parents, on the other hand, were fed up and perplexed.
Maybe it was because we went on a weekend, or maybe it was because parents were horrible at watching their kids that day. I am leaning towards the lack of parenting that was evident during this trip.
All of us adults quickly realized that parents would rather their children experience instant gratification rather than delayed gratification.
Our Negative Experiences
Remember that swing I told you about? There are four swings shaped like a horse, so four children could ride it at once. An adult or older child has to stand in the middle and push it so the kids can swing around in a circle while seated. When we walked up to it, there was one man swinging his one child. So, we waited patiently until the swinging stopped, so that our four children could hop on and we could then operate the swing for them.
However, as soon as we started walking to put our kids on, about 10 other children, probably even more than that, with their parents behind them, ambushed all of the seats. We had to grab our children’s shoulders and pull them back because the kids were so wild and rude. The parents did nothing. They did not stop their children so they could wait their turn, as we did.
We were very upset because our little girls were very excited to ride the swings, and they patiently waited for their turn.
Why was it so difficult to make their children wait? To tell them, “Sorry sweetie, these other little girls were here first, so you have to wait your turn.”? Isn’t this an important concept to teach them? We didn’t understand why the parents didn’t do this.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t our only negative experience.
We left the swing area because we realized that it was going to be awhile for our girls to be able to hop on a swing. So we walked to a playground that was in the shape of a castle. You walk inside it and have to climb up a staircase to get to the top. Once you are at the top, you can walk around or you can go down the slide.
Because our children were so little, I went inside the castle to make sure they could climb the staircase safely. When we walked in, there was a line. So, I told my kids we had to wait (they tried to walk right to the ladder at first) until the others in front of us reached the top. Apparently, I was the only adult in the castle who thought it wise to tell their children to wait for others who were waiting in line before them because a handful of kids walked right in front of my girls. I, of course, made my kids stay right where they were, and did not let any others get ahead of us. They had to wait in line, just my kids did. But, why did the other adults NOT tell their kids to wait? I was beyond baffled by this.
It seems like parents thought only their children were special and should get everything they wanted. That’s at least the way it felt that day.
Later on, when they wanted to go in the castle again, my best friend went with them to ensure no one would skip ahead of them. We shouldn’t have had to do this; both of our older kids should have been able to wait in line by themselves while we all watched them enjoy the castle.
And unfortunately again, these weren’t our only negative experiences.
The giant pumpkin jumping pillow, if you can imagine, was not at all monitored. There were dozens of kids of all ages jumping across the pillow. It was not tall, so falling off and hurting oneself was not too much of a concern. We thought it would be a fun and relatively safe attraction for all of our kids. We were wrong yet again. It was fun for our kids, but it nearly gave me a heart attack.
Older kids seemed to have been left alone to jump as they pleased with no regard for little children. There were older kids running as fast as they could from one end of the pillow to the other end. Others were jumping from one end to the other, not watching the little kids. Then, there was even a child who decided it was fun and okay to purposely jump over my 2 year old daughter as she was struggling to get up. At first I thought he was trying to avoid her, but then he did this two more times and ran off before I could yell at him. Then he came back and my best friend called him over and told him not to do that again. No other adult said a word to him.
Afterwards, my best friend’s little 1 year old got knocked down by an older girl who wasn’t watching where she was going. There were parents standing around, but saying nothing. We had to be the parents for the children who were being rude and too rough. Why were the parents not saying a damn thing? It was incredibly frustrating.
So, we could have had a wonderful, stress-free time watching our kids enjoy themselves, but due to a lack of proper parenting skills that day, it became more frustrating than an enjoyable experience.
It WAS cute watching the kids play on the farm’s many attractions, so I tried to keep that in perspective.
We likely won’t be going back to this farm, but there is definitely one pumpkin farm that we thoroughly enjoy, and that we know is not a place where children have been left to fend for themselves-Ebert’s Greenhouse in Ixonia, WI. Love this place!
Dear Pumpkin Farm Parents: It IS okay for your children to wait in line; it develops their patience and their respect for others, and it IS okay to tell your child that if he or she cannot behave appropriately, that he or she then cannot play.
If you are at a pumpkin farm and it is busy, don’t forget that others are there to have a similar, fun experience as you.