Blantyre Park playground, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Received Tuesday May 4, 2010
negative emoticon 1
Location: Blantyre Park playground, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

Date and time of incident: Tues May 4, 10:15-11:00 a.m. (this was going on when we arrived and still when we left)

Physical description of caregiver: There were two women of Afro-Caribbean background, not sure which one was the nanny. Younger woman was prob in her 20's, had long cornrow hairstyle; blue jeans and pastel (green?) top, newish black and white running shoes. Older woman was perhaps 50; blue flowery scarf covered her hair; long blue skirt, green (?) top and grey-ish blue cardigan.

Physical description of involved child: Blond girl with longish hair; about 4; wearing a pink sun-hat with strap under chin; pink raincoat; black leggings with a purple top or dress over.

Detailed description of what you witnessed: My daughter and I were in the park for 45 mins and the entire time the two women sat on a picnic table talking while the little girl stood looking miserable by them, not straying by more than a foot from them. She just watched the few other children playing and she looked so sad. The two women hardly paid any attention to her. At one point, the younger woman offered her a snack and the girl didn't want it, so the woman ate it herself (potato chips?) and then started putting on her make-up. The little girl did have a bottle of water, and twice just before we left the older woman did lean over and touch the girl's head or face a bit affectionately - but I think they could tell I was staring at them so it may have been because of that. When we walked by I caught the little girl's eye and smiled at her but she did not smile back. It did occur to me that the child could have some kind of developmental delay or mental condition that made her uninterested in play and fearful of leaving her caregiver. If that is the case, I still find it inappropriate to just take her to the playground and let her stand around while the caregiver and her friend chat for such a long time - they should be doing some kind of activity that is suitable for her! If there is nothing 'wrong' with her medically, then this is a horrible situation - how can you take a child to a park and not engage them in play, push them on the swing etc. It was all very weird. I was reluctant to say anything as I had my 2.5 year old daughter with me and I did not want to enter into a disagreement with these women or criticise them if this is what the family tells them to do with the child. If I ever see this little girl with her parents I hope I will have the guts to say that I saw her in the park with her caregivers and see how they react.

I am usually at work during the day but I am taking some days off to spend with my daughter and I was so disappointed to see this and other behaviour from caregivers at the Peanut Club at Fallingbrook and Kingston Rd, including spending entire time chatting with Peanut club staff, not properly comforting a crying child, texting constantly. It is really a shame!


Reno Nanny said...

I don't know about this one.
She wasn't tied to a stroller.
She wasn't being talked to meanly.
She was offered a snack....

Maybe they are trying to teach her to play independently? When I take care of my 5 year old charge, I take him to the park and he plays with the other kids or with himself. This is my break, since he doesn't nap any more. He's the most tiring charge I've ever had, because he has helicopter parents who make sure someone is playing with him all the time. 24/7, he's never alone. It took a long time for him to go and play at the park alone. I'm sure I looked like a horrible nanny, letting him just stand there or sit on the bench with me. But after hours of nonstop play, I need and deserve a break.

Carolyn in the City said...

Hey I 100% agree with the above post about independent play. When I first started with my charge, he wouldn't leave my side. I finally encouraged him to ask other kids to play, because I noticed he would always take more interest in other nannies and adults rather than kids his age, so I wanted him to feel comfortable around his peers. At first he complained and begged me to play with him, but since I'm with him 10 hours a day, (he doesn't nap so that's 10 straight hours) I thought a 30 min to hour break away from me would do him (and me) some good!

After a few not-so-great trips to the park, he finally came out of his shell, and now approaches every kid on the playground on his own and never wants to stop playing! It's amazing how much he's grown!

And you do have to look at it from a different perspective too. You see going to the playground with your child as bonding time, which since you work, it is. You SHOULD naturally want to spend the entire time engaged with your child since you don't get to as often as you may like. As a nanny though, we are with the child bonding over other activities ALL day. The playground isn't exactly a "break," (we still have to keep a watchful eye out), but it's the closest we get to one.

MissMannah said...

While I agree that children should play independently, especially at a playground, this rubs me the wrong way. A 4 year old girl standing in one spot for 45 minutes? I don't know if I've ever seen a 4 year old stand in one spot for 5 minutes! While I don't want to judge a situation I didn't see, I'd have to agree with the OP that this girl might have had a developmental delay.

ericsmom said...

Some children need gentle coaxing to start to play with other children. I wasn't there. But it would have been nice if the nanny took her to the area the children were playing in. Maybe, introduce her to another child. And sit there with her a few minutes. Until she warmed up.

ericsmom said...

oppps I mean where

CSNanny said...

I have a set of 2 year old twins who were born pre-mature. I take them to the park regularly, and sometimes they will go play, and other times they will stand in one spot for up an hour. I have talked to their mom, who is a psychologist, and she said it's perfectly fine. Do I coax them? Sure. But do I force them to do something? No. If they are content standing there, and are not asking to be played with, I leave them be. And it doesn't make me a bad or neglectful nanny!