June 24, 2023

The Park Rat

Being that we live about a block away from our wonderful, spacious town park, Chris and I often take S over there to blow off some steam and let him run free (our backyard is a postage stamp, to use that time-worn phrase).
But there's something about the park that often irks me; the park rat.  Not a literal one, but it seems like there's always a kid, usually a boy, who just keeps hanging around us.  Many times he's with his grandma, who's parked on a bench reading, or with a mom or dad who is catching up on a zillion cell phone calls and ignoring their child.  Not that I've never made a call in the park, but I always keep an eye on my kid.
This morning, the park rat, a boy of about 6, was all over us the moment we stepped into the playground area.  The barrage of questions began, (Where do you live? What are you doing today?) as well as the non-stop talking (I live with my grandma, my cousin's at a birthday party today so I'm not at his house right now, I have a pirate shirt and a belt with a knife and sword in it, etc.).  While I feel for this kid, who just seems lonely and eager to make friends, his talking was exhausting.  I thought the park was a place of refuge from all the talking I hear all day at home. :)

The final annoyance was not when he started helping himself to S's snack (which really didn't bother me, since if a child is hungry I'm not one to withhold pretzels and goldfish crackers), but when he took possession of Soren's foam rocket launcher for, oh, like a half an hour.  S didn't seem to care, so I let the boy carry it around (he wasn't even really playing with it, just possessing it) while they were playing an un-balanced game of tag.

Lesson learned: leave the cool toys at home.  Too bad my park rat-sniffing senses aren't quite developed, otherwise I would have sprinted to some other area of the park.  Though I do kind of feel bad for that poor kid, who was using the pretzel rod I gave him as a "cigarette, just like his dad's."  Thankfully he told me that he'll never smoke, because it's hard to quit.

Have you encountered park rats at your playground? Or am I all alone here in my petty annoyance?


  1. I haven't come across one, but I think I would have a hard time with them taking JDaniel's toy for a long time.

  2. I've come across those type of kids {and adults} on occasion-I can appreciate their situation and if I run across a 'park rat' I'm usually pretty patient with them, but sometimes your just too tired.

    I'm one of those who are too polite to leave, though, so I guess that's MY problem. LOL

  3. I'm sorry, and this may just be me, but calling a child who clearly is desperate for some positive interactions a "park rat" is a seriously uncool thing to do. I get being annoyed that the kid took your kid's toy, but calling them rats? Really? All they want to do is play and talk.

  4. I understand your point, anonymous, though the post is more of a tongue-in-cheek rant, I just couldn't believe that this kid was just hounding us the whole time. I guess I thought maybe his grandmother would have played with him a little too, or at least paid him some attention. It did make me feel sad.

  5. Hmmm. I was going to say that I found the term "park rat" apt, since it seems to describe an outsider, someone who isn't doing the "right" things, but most certainly wants to. After all, no one wants to be a rat. I felt like you were being sensitive to the awkwardness of the boy's position, his needs, and your own needs.

    Now, I sadly don't frequent parks. In my last neighborhood, I did have some darling neighbor children who seemed to need adult attention and got it from my hubs and I. In my case, I was projecting my family values on them, assuming that these children needed the adult interaction that I vow to give my own children.

    Sometimes their presences were annoying, like when they knocked and knocked on my door, peeking through my windows to see if I was home, while I was busy putting my baby to sleep or, even worse, tied to my breast pump for an hour. Sometimes I got up the nerve to explain to them "knocking" etiquette. Sometimes I wished their parents were around more to help them do things the "right" way. Always I felt for them and their hard-working, sometimes single, sometimes just busy, parents. And sometimes I knew I needed to cinch in my boundaries a bit, to preserve my energy for myself and my family.

  6. We always end up watching and playing with everyone else's kids at the park and outside our apartment...since we are usually the only parents in sight!

  7. Hmm.. I've never encountered one before. Poor kid indeed. I hope parents notice.


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