Quantcast » Blog Archive » #18: Indoor Playgrounds

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008...4:23 pm

#18: Indoor Playgrounds


Public parks present a dilemma for the Best Parent: they are free, and anyone can go to them. Why is this so terrible? After all, the true Best Parent loves to publicly and self-consciously demonstrate their passion for diversity and community as much as possible, and a public park offers, well, a very public, community venue for this. On the downside, such arenas offer extremely limited opportunities for the Best Parent to spend unnecessary time and money to prove they are, once again, better than you.

Enter the Indoor Playground. No, we’re not talking about those greasy plastic habitrails in McDonalds that haven’t been cleaned since Mayor McCheese’s first term in office. The indoor playground the Best Parent patronizes charges an admission fee, offers costly educational classes, and often has the name play or gym in the title, as if they are toddler versions of high-end health clubs (which the Best Parent use to be quite fond of, prior to the body-image-blasting torpedo of childbirth).

How is it that one of the most basic joys of childhood – playing in the park – has been so brazenly packaged and commodified? Why is it that places like Gymboree offer extensive classes in such things as two way communication and motor planning, what many people use to refer to as walking and talking?

Because the Best Parent is not “most people.” Paying for so-called toddler gym teachers to instruct their children in how to play is not only important for the development of their child. It is essential for the development of the Best Parent, who must once again demonstrate how they care about their child more than you do.

So take that, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and outdoor loving children of all kinds! Best Parents everywhere are throwing in with a polyester Gymbo plush from Gymboree. Regardless of skin color, if children are not enjoying their youth on the nylon carpeting and petroleum-based playthings of an indoor gym, then their mater and paterfamilias are just are not Best Parent enough.

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  • I’m white and I’m not a parent yet but would rather have someone shoot me if I ever wound up taking my kid to one of these places when there was a park nearby. You know…one with a rubber floor, rounded edges on everything, swings that only go a little high, slides that are short and not too slippery with the super gumby non slip steps and a Starbucks and Wi-Fi access.

    S A R C A S M ends

    Really though, I want my kids outside, playing and doing stuff — raised the way my generation was raised — you know, disappear for the day and check back in for lunch and then zip the hell out and come back for dinner. Limited TV and limited computer access and limited video gaming, you know? Sure we were outside, but if something was going wrong, you were always near someone’s place that you knew that you could go to.

    Sigh. What happened. This toddler gym and play date scheduling and nursery school entrance exams are crazy to me.

  • hahaha I love this page

  • http://www.anythingblack.net

    I like indoor playgrounds but I get too tempted to go play too

  • I agree w/ Jimmy James. Outside is fresh and kids get to scream, really run, and play like we did when we were toddlers. I was dragged to an indoor play space w/ my cousin and her kid and wouldn’t let my child near the ball pit laden w/ fleas , lice, or who the hell knows what.

    I see plenty of kids in outdoor playgrounds having a great time w/ other kids their age and older. People relax w/ the Gymboree crap. It’s a rip off and doesn’t make your child any smarter or happier.

    I should know, I taught over a decade in high end preschools and the best times the kids had was running around Central or Prospect Park, kicking a ball, digging for worms, or picking wildflowers. Playing hide and seek, and tag is still loads of fun.

    This isn’t rocket science, people. Just keep a watchful eye on your kid and let the toddlers run around in nature- if you can get to it.

  • This is true I felt all alone when I took my daughter there, with all the white kids! Ha, ha, ha!!

  • This site is awesome and spot on again. I went to a birthday party kids and the parents spent all kinds of money to have it at an indoor play area. It was white parents with money who took their kids to an overpriced daycare their acting all snooty. I laughed as my daughter kicked the crap out of half the boys in the group that were 2 years older than her. What is happening with all this is we are raising a generation of pansy little kids that don’t know how to go out and play. They fall down and the mom’s are on them like they need surgery, I saw this many times that night. My daughter took a header off a trampoline, I told her to get up and shake it off. I thought child services was going to be called on me.

  • What in the world?
    April 2nd, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Why is it that all of the post last paragraphs start with “So take that”?

  • Maddie&livysmommie
    April 2nd, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I am not white. In fact, I’m the opposite. With the exception of Wii, that ridiculous-looking high chair and the non-white nanny, I guess I really am white. We have at least 700 children’s books, and I must say I have been bitten by the in-door gym bug. I do sense the child rearing pendulum swinging back to parents taking care of their own children. There is far more honor and martyrdom in that. And if there is nothing more than a whitey aspires for, its the feeling of honor and martyrdom.

    I like this blog. The tone is a bit more snooty and pretentious than SWPL, but hey.

  • half this stuff wasnt around when I was a kid :-(


  • Kids should play outside as much as possible. Period.

    So as of 4-3-08, that makes only 2 of 18 Stuff White Parents Like that I, being a REAL white parent, actually like.

    Nothing like perpetuating those myths and stereotypes, is there.

  • Johann, you were cracking me up with your running count–and actually, kudos to you for being 2 of 18–this game is like golf, the lower, the better! That’s the point of this blog, isn’t it–to point out the ludicrous things that white parents do in order to help us all gain a little perspective (something sorely lacking in parenting these days, in my opinion). What I like about this blog is that, instead of pontificating on baby wearing and organic mattresses, it makes us take a look at ourselves. The “parenting” websites are what perpetuate myths and stereotypes–that there is “one way” to raise your child, etc. etc.

    One more thing–readers of this blog might enjoy the book “Perfect Madness” by Judith Warner. Well, Tamblu wouldn’t–that poster claims s/he left the blog (thank goodness) but this book would go against her NYC/baby-wearing/I-take-myself-very-seriously “aesthetic” (which by the way, should be on SWPL as a word white people like).

    Keep up the good work, bloggers!

  • Glad I could make you laugh.

    It is a pretty comical (yet sad) thing to see the lengths some parents- white or otherwise- will go to to convince themselves they’re “better” parents than everyone else.

    Great job.

    P.S. I don’t even know what “aesthetic” means. :)

  • danielmybrother
    April 10th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    This reminds me of what is wrong with white people. They (we) have made our kids so wimpy (in lieu or other words) that for fear of some white van driving up with a slimbag attempting to steal our kids we have given up teaching them how to deal people like other neighborhood kids, (non white of course right) so while non white kids are out having fun skinning their knees breaking arms, (oh well, mine still aches once in a while) they are kept indoors getting really fat and going to TIME OUT. WAKE up, let em grow up and experience childhood. Being too protective is such utter BS, in fact non whites are now doing the same stupid thing putting little fences up so Manuel don’ get stol. Take down all fences, have fun, play sports, music, put down technology and text phones what a damn waste. Sorry, time to get back to basics like dirt clod fights. YEAH

  • My child went to “indoor playgrounds” whenever we had the opportunity and/or could afford to do so. So did many of her friends, and they come in many colors and economic backgrounds. She was invited to birthday parties at some which she enjoyed as a young girl. The key to going was for fun and exercise. And sometimes just because I need a break from all of her high energy level. I was the mom who came home from work and took all the kids in the neighborhood for a long walk down winding hills, taught many of them how to ride bikes while many of the other parents stayed inside, made dinner and did whatever they did. Our dinners were not elaborate, but at a young age they did not have to be. So lighten up people. Learn to enjoy each moment. They are your moments. Your children won’t necessarily remember each of them, they are yours. Play a little. Don’t waste your time here venting. Children will remember you most by your enthusiasm (participation) or your anger (disenvolvement) … you decide.

  • one of my best friends owns an indoor playground, so we go all the time w/o paying the entry fee. happy times all around!

  • American Import
    June 26th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I take my daughter to the indoor playground every chance I get. When I was six I would have gladly sold my mother to get the chance to go to one of these beauties, had they existed in the 70s. Our local Funky Fun House (sooo funky, sooo fun) has a massive 7-8 m high structure with countless sublevels and obstacles. Sure, rolling in the dirt and falling out of trees has its place, but a game of tag in 3 dimensions? That’s monkey style, and every kid really wants to be a monkey when they’re six.

  • Every mall, even Mcdonald’s, in America should have indoor playgrounds. That would be cool!

  • I agree the best place is outside. Heck, I remember our moms turning the hose on a dirt patch to get it nice and muddy and we’d cover ourselves with mud and keep perfectly still till it dried, then we’d pretend we were the incredible hulk by flexing our arms and moving so the dirt cracked (when your 5 it felt like clothes ripping and like you were growing out of your skin like the hulk, lol). I loved it and hope my kids have such fun outdoor memories.
    However, for the time being I live in the Glasgow, UK, and believe me, it’s like the place has been dipped in dog crap and it rains more than Seattle. Also, every 2 inches on the ground, there is broken glass from somebody smashing a Mad dog bottle (or Buckfast which is even worse) on the ground (if you ever go to Scotland, be sure it’s the Highlands).
    So, until we move away from beautiful downtown Scumville, I’m stuck taking my kid to indoor play-places :(

  • I’ve only read the first page of replies but I haven’t seen another reason to go to indoor playgrounds listed yet: weather reasons. We live in New England in a small townhouse (no backyard). I joke that in the spring/summer we make the rounds of playgrounds; in the fall we make the rounds of (free) farms; and in the winter we make the rounds of indoor playgrounds. I don’t like having to pay for them but it’s better than sitting in our living room and getting cabin fever some days!

  • Oh god. I’m a Best Parent Ever. I’ve been to the playground in the picture, multiple times. Mostly for playgroup events and overdone birthday parties. Sigh. Grin.

  • OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve signed my toddler up for a class at an indoor gym once a week. I have one reason for doing so, and one reason alone:

    Almost all our neighborhood children attend preschool/daycare. My son does not. Yes, we go to the playground every day. Yes, I agree that it would be best for him to play with other kids…on the playground. But the fact of the matter remains: when we go to the playground on a weekday, he is the only child there.

    The class at this toddler gym provides him with at least one place to get to know other kids. It also exposes him to other adults. Staying at home with mommy all alone, all day can get really boring sometimes. Meeting up with other parents and children at the class, has also provided us with a network for playdates, etc. We have to travel to get to them, but there are other kids in the area who don’t go to preschool.

    When I was growing up, we played with neighborhood kids in big yards. We climbed trees and did all kinds of stuff a lot of kids don’t have the opportunity to do today. In an ideal world, kids would still be doing that. But when all the other kids are in daycare/preschool–what’s a mommy to do? One idea–sign your child up for a class, maybe at a toddler gym. That way, they might actually meet some other kids to play with.

  • I like indoor playgrounds for the winter time. That way the kids can run their energy out when it’s too cold and the snow is too deep to be outdoors. Of course the outdoors has it’s place. That’s why BESTPARENTS spend big bucks on their own outdoor play equipment!