Monday, May 19, 2014

A Day At The Park Was Not Walk In The Park For This Dad

Dear Mr. Tazi Kat:

I am fuming! I went to the playground today with my 3-year-old daughter only to find a group of older girls (they looked about 12, and some were wearing makeup) sitting on the swings and refusing to leave. I politely asked if my daughter could use the playground equipment, but these girls refused to budge. The swings are really the only playground toy that she can play on - monkey bars are too high; she is too small for a see-saw; and the slide scares her. It was not like these girls were actually swinging on the swings - they were just sitting there gossiping!

After about 20 minutes of running around, my daughter was getting antsy to use the swings, so I once again approached the group of girls who had commandeered the swings and asked if my child could use them for the purpose intended. The lead girl let out a huge sigh and asked me what part of "no" did I not understand? Infuriated, I called the Sheriff's Office to complain; but when an officer arrived on the scene to question the girls, they told him that I was harassing them and making them feel very uncomfortable! The officer actually came up to me and asked if I had proof that the child I claimed as mine (my daughter) really was my child, and grilled me like I was some kind of sexual predator scoping out the playground under the guise of being a good father!

Tazi, to start my daughter looks just like me; plus I have at least a dozen photos of her and my wife (her mother) in my wallet. Second, I am an upstanding member of my community! This, however, did not matter: I was asked to leave the playground because I was getting a little hot under the collar, which I regrettably did. What is this world coming to when a group of ill-mannered pre-teens can force a parent and young child out of a playground? I would like to file a complaint of my own with the Sheriff, but my wife tells me that I should just let sleeping dogs lie before my reputation ends up tarnished. What say you, Mr. Kat?

A Good Father

Dear Good Father:

While it was admirable of you to take your daughter to the playground, and while it sounds like the pre-teen girls who were already there were quite rude, you must understand that the playground is still a public park where all kinds will gather and the police - who were not there to witness the events - need to take extra precautions when dealing with children.

It is obvious that the girls on the swings were a group of Queen Bees looking to start trouble in order to boost their own sense of power and ego, and you had the unfortunate experience of stumbling upon their nest. Because they chose to complain about you to the law officer who showed up (after you called them!) I think it would be a good idea to file a complaint that will tell your side of the story - that you were there with your young child and attempted to secure a swing for her from a group of overage youngsters who were loitering. Be certain to mention that it was you who called the Sheriff's office in the first place, and that you did not appreciate the thinly veiled accusations that you were a sexual predator. Once your side of the story is on file for the record (something the reporting officer should have taken at the scene) you should let the situation drop, lest further trouble find you in the form of the parents of these pre-teen girls.

As I said in the opening of my response, a public park - especially a playground - attracts all kinds, including those with less than honorable intentions towards the youth who gather there. I, for one, would rather be briefly hassled by a police officer who is looking to protect the children of my community than see a predator believed when he casually points to someone else's child and claims him/her as his own in an effort to blend in with the rest of the playground crowd.

Since, by your own admission, your daughter is too young to use any of the playground equipment - with the exception of the swings - maybe you could look for a better location for her to play outdoors; one where there is more for her to do (many children like the swings, and they are not always available, even when there are no pre-teen girls hogging them). In the meantime, you could file this experience away as an example of the woman you do not want your daughter to become, and continue to actively parent her in such a way that as she grows, she will learn how to respect her elders and treat those younger than her with the kindness that she would like to receive.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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