31 Days with Mama A: Playground Rules (Day 2).

Hello precious folks and welcome to Day 2 with Mama A!  

It's exciting to know that we have the entire month of October stretching out in front of us.  I love, love, love the season change and I love that my Christmas decorations have begun calling out to me like Odysseus' sirens.

I'm going to answer their call, too.

Just you wait.  

Lauren Thorn Photography
I can't quit Christmas and I can't quit this picture.

Sweet things, it is time we discussed playground rules.  I know for some of you it's been an awful long time since your days of yore, but I bet my bottom dollar that you remember how to slide down the metal slides on a hot day without burning the fool out of your tushie.  I wonder if you played a mean game of tetherball like me, or if you had a good old fashioned Field Day (with a limited number of ribbons for the actual winners).  These kids today don't even have to deal with rickety playground equipment or splinters of despair.  They have nice plastic slides and jungle gyms and padded wood chips underneath to catch them when they fall off the equipment that is less than 2-3 feet from the ground.  


But, I've also discovered that as adults, if we could apply the Playground Rules to our daily lives, perhaps the world could be a brighter place.  I don't know about you, but when I was in elementary school, recess was where it was at!  Most of the time on the playground we had a blast--and with the exception of a stray mud puddle or a mean ol' bully (things that were obviously out of our control), life was great at recess.  Am I right?  

I have taken it upon myself to compile a list of playground and life rules we should all live by, and please make sure you are ready to line up when Mama A blows the whistle and holds up her hand.

Don't you dare make me come looking for you. 

This is my Wal-mart Face.
It's also the, "Don't mess with me" face.

Mama A's Playground Rules

1.  One at a time down the slide.  Sure, it looks like fun when kids are all piled up behind each other going down the slide.  Television makes it look easy.  But inevitably, someone gets stuck and then the whole train of children going down gets stuck, too.  You know what, life would also be a lot smoother if we could all just wait our turn.  We need to stop trying to catch up with the Joneses in front of us.  We need to stop wanting to do things as fast as everyone else.  We need to stop trying to get all in the middle of things that don't have our names on it.  Stop following the crowd and just be yourself for once.*

2.  Pick up your trash.  If you wouldn't leave your greasy takeout wrappers and junk all over your desk at work, or wouldn't smear food down the front of your shirt, then please don't put your trash and drama all over social media for the entire world to see.  There are some things we just don't share with the masses, folks.  And, FYI, your vague statements about this, that, and the other aren't helping either.  We all know what you are trying to say, and most likely the person you are directing your comments towards doesn't read your posts and/or doesn't care that you are posting about them.  I don't want to know about your bodily functions, we don't want to hear about intimate details, and we certainly are tired about you constantly moaning and groaning about things that don't matter in the grand scheme of things.

We're over it, and you should be, too.  

3.  Don't be a bully.  I am sick and tired of encountering adults who insist on acting like little children.  I'm sick of watching coworkers and congregation members and neighbors being mean to others.  I'm tired of watching mamas being passive aggressive and snarky towards the "less than awesome" mamas.  It's pathetic and sad--and we all know that hurting people hurt others.  Deal with your own business and stop picking on others around you to make yourself feel better.  You're going to end up bummed about your life and isolate yourself to the point that no one will want to be your friend.  

4.  When recess is over, be ready to line up with everyone.  We have got to learn to leave the past in the past.  Those old relationships and past regrets can't be changed and we need to stop letting them define and decide everything for us.  We all have junk in our past that we are not proud of, things we wish we never said, and decisions that may not have been the best.  But, part of what makes this life so good is the ebb and the flow.  We need to recognize that our highs and lows are what makes us into the people we are today.  We need to learn from these mistakes and move forward.  

5.  Share your snacks.  Be encouraging to others.  Offer treats of love, joy and peace towards those around you.  You never know what battles someone else is facing that moment--sometimes that friendly smile, listening ears, and that extra heaping of patience is all it takes to make someone's day a little bit brighter.

Exhibit A:  An acceptable snack to share with Mama A.
6.  Don't be a show off.  Ok, this is a personal pet peeve of mine (it ranks up there with mouth breathers and the sound of teeth being pulled).  My darlings, there is no way your life is 100% awesome all of the time.  You cannot sit there and brag about you (and/or your children) being all this, that, and the other without making people roll their eyes and want to punch you in the face.  No one likes those kids, and no one likes those adults that the kids become later.  Let others sing your praises instead of cramming your sticker book of gold stars down our throats.  

7.  Take risks.  This one is risky--which is why it's called a risk.  Sometimes you just need to jump and find that you can, and will, land firmly on your feet.  Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone once in awhile.  It's ok to try something different.  It's ok to meet new people.  It's ok own that new outfit because it makes you feel like a winner.

But, also recognize that flying off the seat of the swings can cause injuries.  

And sometimes that first drop on the big roller coaster is pee-your-pants (just a little) scary. 

Be ready for broken arms and broken dreams.  It's just a part of life.  And after you cry and collect your pride, dust yourself off and try, try again.     

8.  Let everyone else have a turn.  We need to get out of our bubbles of perceived perfection and relinquish control to someone else once in a while.  Stop being so possessive of your friends, your titles, and your reputations.  Recognize that sometimes it's not going to be your destiny to always make the team, or receive the award, or be the center of attention.  You cannot always be the leader, you cannot always be first, and you cannot always be the most popular person in the room.

Mo, the overachiever.
Good student, nice to her sisters, friends, and animals, enjoys laughing.
Doesn't like to lose.
9.  Pick your teams fairly.  I used to hate standing in the picking teams lines.  It was always so stressful and I would cross all of my fingers and toes that I would not be the last one chosen.  It was embarrassing and hurtful when the team captains would get to the last two kids left and they made it seem like neither kid was a good option for their team. There are going to be people in this life whom you won't get along with, who won't pull their weight, and who won't make your life any easier.  But, I guarantee that most of those folks have something that makes them unique and special.  A good team captain always figures out how to best place their team members--and finds way to let each of them shine in their own way.  Do your best to find at least one nice thing in each person you encounter.

10.  Don't throw rocks.  I must confess that this rule came from my stud lerve muffin, Christacular.  He would tell his backpacking campers that this was a very important rule for two reasons:  1. It's not safe, and 2. You never know where the rocks are going to land.

My own precious Lily and her friends got into trouble for throwing rocks at a classmate when they were in kindergarten.  Let's just say that when we got that note from her teacher, homeslice learned very quickly that rocks are best left on the ground.  

There will be times when someone makes you insane with anger and you will want to give them all the pieces of your mind.  You will want to say mean things and you will want that person to hurt as badly as they hurt you.  But, be careful and think twice before you explode.  Don't put it all over social media, don't spread it up and down the hallways at your office or place of employment, and stop sharing it within your parties, churches, families, and gatherings.

If you can't say anything nice, then keep your trap shut.  

And let's be clear: posting judgmental, racist, intolerant, mean, ignorant, and/or rude statuses on your social media feeds is not going to help any situation get any better.  You are only going to get high fives from the other neanderthals you call your friends.  Once you put it out there--it's out there for the whole world to see and hear and repeat.  You have no idea the number of people who are going to read your posts and how they can, and will, be used against you in the future.

Sometimes your tweets make people feel like this.
Chickadees and Chickadudes--I used to think that becoming a grownup would make a lot of this silly nonsense go away.  I used to dream about not having to deal with middle school drama and bullies and unfair gossip and ridiculous behaviors.  Unfortunately, I've found that many adults are still stuck in grade school because they flunked all of their social skills classes.


My friends, if you fail to follow these suggested rules, you may be forced to stand by the wall or walk the track while everyone else is having fun on the monkey bars without you.

And I'll let you in on a secret--they are probably delighted that people like you aren't there to torment and make them crazy anymore.  

The face the nice kids make when the mean kids finally get what's comin' to them.
Just keepin' it real, folks.

Love and smooches,
Mama A.

*My rockstar neighbor, Caroline, is writing on this very thing over at her blog for the next 31 days--be sure to check her posts out as well!

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