JP is almost six. Really, in less than two months he will be six-years-old already. That means I’ve spent a lot of time on the playground over the past several years. Like everyone else, we started off with the baby swing when JP was around six months old. And gradually he moved from the little playground to the big one. Now we call him monkey as he flies across the rings and slides down the fire pole.
When JP was younger I stood by him at the playground, ready to break a fall or redirect him. These days I highly enjoy what I call “parenting from the bench.” I sit on the bench at the playground, preferably talking to my mom friends while JP and his friends expend their energy on the playground. This parenting style works very well for us. I’m not there anymore to break a fall. But that means JP learns how to navigate and problem solve on his own, without me hovering over him. I know this is the way most of us grew up playing.
Recently we were on Governor’s Island where JP was climbing on cool new playground equipment while Ray and I sat on a bench and watched him. At one point JP was hanging on a rope and deciding if he should let go or not. He decided to let go and when he hit the wood chips he fell on his behind. This was a very slow and low fall and he jumped up and got right back on the equipment. He didn’t even look my way. Then a bystander asked aloud “where is his mother?” That really irked me. She’s right here, parenting from the bench.