Slightly dishevelled from the night before, I head to the park with my kids.
Feeling delicate, I opt out of Frisbee and lay on a blanket to watch the world go round. With the kids playing happily, I turn my attention to people around me.
Boys with footballs, girls hanging upside-down from a rope bridge - when do they learn to do that?
Kids crying on the seesaw. Sisters - aged 7 and 4 I would say. The game goes like this.
Little one winds up big one. Big one chases little one and pushes/hits/pulls hair before heading back to the playground. Little one cries to mum and then goes back and starts again. Mum says nothing. I don’t like kids being violent with each other.
Then another scuffle breaks out on the roundabout. Five kids aged 3-11 were playing nicely until the youngest starts getting agitated.
He picks up the wood chippings and starts throwing them at the others. Not getting the attention he wants he screams at them and then spits on his sister.
Again the parents watch the whole episode without intervening.
Now it’s true there is a million reasons as to why this boy is acting the way he is, but you would need a very good excuse as a parent not to intervene wouldn’t you? Not to reprimand or at least threaten to leave the park if he does it again?
‘Beyond Chocolate’, my bible on arrival here, informed me that parenting in Switzerland was more ‘laissez-faire’. Like today, some parents are just less likely to step-in over out-of-control behaviour.
I’ve seen many instances of that here in Basel (not all Swiss I hasten to add). I don’t buy it myself but then I guess I don’t need to. I just file it into that box marked ‘interesting differences of living abroad’ and pick up the Frisbee.