Which, I suppose, would not be such a big deal, if the school hadn't also changed from tickets to a wristband system. That annoys me all in itself, because now going to the carnival requires a minimum output of fifteen bucks. Before, I could choose how much to spend. I could decide to buy five or ten dollars worth of tickets and tell my kids, when the tickets are gone, it's time to go home. With the wristband, not only am I forced to shell out possibly more than I would have chosen to spend, but I get to be the bad guy and be the one who (seemingly arbitrarily) says when it's time to go home. Did I mention that the carnival this year was from 4:00 - 8:00? Dinnertime? Too soon to eat beforehand (especially with all that bouncing) and too late to wait until afterwards to have dinner.
I foresee a spot on the carnival committee in my future. Not that it will help.
But that's a different rant. This rant is about the bouncy things, and the wristband system. Because, apparently, when there was no longer a need to collect tickets, there was no longer a need to have parents actually work the attractions. Yup, with the exception of the obstacle course, which (sometimes) had one parent vaguely paying attention to how many kids went in at a time, and no one paying attention to how many bothered to come out again, none of the bouncy structures were supervised. None.
Now, I don't consider myself an overprotective parent. Maybe I am. Maybe allowing unlimited numbers of elementary aged children climb into a structure that clearly states it only holds ten safely is a good idea. Maybe letting them climb the walls and try to sit on top of a 10-foot inflatable wall while other kids try to knock them off is a good idea. Maybe letting so many children into a structure that it collapses is a good idea. If all those things are good ideas, then OK, I'm wrong about the not being overprotective thing. But I'm gonna go with my instincts, and posted warnings.
So, there was this one bouncy thing, that was a big square, but had some obstacle-type stuff in it. A big triangle to climb and slide down, some pillars to run through, and a wall with cutouts to climb through. It was a very popular structure. The max number of kids posted was between 8 (for toddlers) and 4 (for teens). At one point, I counted fifteen kids in there. There was one group of about four boys, who had been in there for at least 30 minutes, who were getting really rowdy. They were climbing the netting. They were trying to climb to the top of the unetted wall, to sit on it. They would climb the slide thing, then leap off onto other kids, who were trying to run through the pillars.
I told them to knock it off.
Yes, you read that right. I told other people's children how to behave. Right out there in public. Where anyone could see me. I didn't even say it nicely. I didn't care if their own parents were standing right there. The kids were misbehaving, and they needed to behave. They were putting themselves and other kids in danger, and they needed to stop.
Some kids stopped; some didn't. No jumping off the slide, I said, rather sternly. One little boy, about seven, climbed to the top of the slide triangle and crouched. No jumping off the slide, I said again. He looked me in the eye. Don't jump, I said to him.
He jumped. He turned to look at me, grinning.
That's it, I said, pointing at him. You're out. He looked astonished.
You're out of there, I repeated. Ten minutes, out here, before you can go back in. He started to protest. I started to move to the entrance. He climbed out. Tried to tell me he hadn't done anything. I cut him off. I told you not to jump, and you jumped. It's dangerous, and it's not allowed.
So, shoot me. This comes up on my boards all the time. Mothers who get all snippy and outraged when some other person dares to discipline their little darling. How dare they!, these mother's exclaim. If I thought he needed correcting, I would do it. Well, here's a newsflash, lady. Your little darling needed correcting, and you didn't do it. Either you weren't there (and why weren't you?), or you're so convinced your little darling can do no wrong that you failed to notice he was in violation of every posted safety rule. I care not one whit if you think I'm out of line. I care that other kids are being put in danger by your lousy parenting. I care that my child is getting the message that safety rules don't matter, and can be ignored.
No one shot me daggers, even when the kid started to cry. Did I mention that I made him cry? Do I need to mention that I didn't care? When he said it wasn't fair because other kids were jumping, I pointed out that he was the one who jumped after I said not to jump. When he said he didn't mean to jump, I sympathized and acknowledged that must really suck for him, having to bear the consequence anyway. He got over it. I let him back in after five minutes. He didn't jump off the slide again - at least not while I was there.
I ran into a friend of mine later, who told me there had been several injuries on one of the other structures.
It doesn't bother me that I'm that woman. It bothers me that no one else was. There were at least a dozen parents standing around, chatting, staring absently at the kids, talking on their cell phones. And not one of them said a word to the kids about the way they were behaving. Until I did. Then a couple of other parents sort of snapped to and started paying attention, and telling the kids not to climb over the sides. A couple ran over and got their kids out. Probably afraid I would yell at them, and scar them for life. The poor darlings.