On days we don't have any activities or committments and when the weather cooperates, the kids play at the playground at school. We are not the only ones. Not only do other parents and caregivers welcome the opportunity to burn off a little energy in their charges, but a few after school day cares spend an hour there.
One of the more popular spots are the monkey bars. During lunch and recess they have enforced rules about one at a time, no pushing, no budding in. But after school it's the wild west.
Girls in particular are keen to perfect and show off their form. So there is usually a line up for one set of monkey bars at both ends. Even though there are four sets, one in particular is the most prized.
The Girlie Goo, who seems to have the monkey bar gene, will patiently wait her turn. She will put up with being pushed aside, jostled, shoved and yelled at. She knows that she'll get her turn eventually. She has been known to call out to deaf ears "why don't we line up and go one at a time?".
On Mondays Sydney has a hip hop dance class so we have only a few minutes before we have to race away. Last Monday, I told her she could have a quick turn on the monkey bars before we left.
She waited patiently for her turn and then insisted on taking her turn only to have a much larger girl grab onto the same ring has her tiny fingers were clutching, but only after being bumped by one, pushed by a second and had to wait an eternity for another to just hang from the handles.
She left the playground in tears as she had not completed her turn. She projected her anger at me because I told her we had to go.
"Sydney, I know some of the kids weren't sharing. It's hard, but not everyone shares all the time. We can stop by on our way home from dance and you will probably have the monkey bars all to yourself."
Jackson was quick to add his assessment of the situation "they have rules, you know Mommy, but because the noon hour supervisors aren't there, the kids are ignoring them."
Sydney seemed satisfied and her mother and brother had seen the unfairness of the whole situation and she composed herself.
Jackson then added "since we're still on the topic of being unfair, I was playing cops and robbers with V today. V was the cop and I was the robber. But every time I almost got him he would always say that he had force field or that I didn't have the right gun to shoot him. That wasn't very fair."
"Not everyone plays by the rules all the time." I said. "You know I'm yelling at drivers sometimes because they aren't driving very safely or following the rules."
"Yeah, that's not right." Sydney said.
"When we're finding friends to play with we naturally like to play more with people who play by the rules and take turns. If someone is like that all the time, that might not be a friend you want to play with very often."
"Mommy, V is not normally like that." Jackson added.
"Well, we all have days when we maybe aren't playing the fairest. So it sounds like V is a good friend and he was just having a bad day."
"Mommy" Sydney said "since we haven't changed the subject yet, I made a salad at lunch and it was the best salad because I had twigs, leaves AND rocks. M. was the judge and she said mine was the best but L said M only picked mine because we are best friends, but mine was the best. Because of the rocks. L wasn't very nice. So that wasn't very fair of her."
If there is one thing I have stressed in my 8 plus years as a parent, it's to be fair, take turns and share. While the kids have their moments with each other, I will say that they do take their turns at school and on the playground. I know this is in large part due to neither of them liking confrontation (and I guess will not follow in my shoes as one who deals with conflict as a profession).
The lesson of life is that not everyone will share and take turns. And it's not always fair and square. But we can roll with it. Unless it's someone not taking turns merging onto the highway.