Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thought - Precise Play

I have always been nervous around large groups of people.  I know that no one likes crowds (packed theatres, a busy zoo, frantic grocery stores), and that we all have different ways to deal with this anxiety.  Me, I refuse to go, and if I truly must put myself in those situations then I try my best, but if I start to feel overwhelmed I just shut down.  I go inside myself and tune out the chaos and noise around me.  That's how I've always dealt with my own neurosis and I get along quite nicely.

When I became a parent it quickly became ...apparent ...that I would have to put myself in situations that might make me uncomfortable.  Crowded libraries, age-diverse playgrounds, museums; I want my kids to visit and enjoy these place even though they make me feel acutely crazy.  Thankfully, my wife loves to take the kids to festivals and the like, so I'm not put in these situations all the time, and when I am I can deal with it.

But a new problem has arisen, and it's very troubling; the places that we want to investigate and enjoy are not only crowded, but actually seem to promote the things that make me nervous and inhibit the play of my children.  These places are noisy, busy, physical, messy, unsupervised, and surprisingly noneducational.  When I take my daughter to a science museum I expect to learn, play, explore, talk; basically have a nice quite time and leave having experienced science.  I don't expect to need to protect her from obtuse 8-year-olds, yell to be heard, pick up after others, and leave feeling like I've just been bashed over the head with sounds & colors.

At what point did education become over stimulation?  Why is there no place to play in a precise manner other than my own living room?  My daughter wants to learn and I want to teach her.  But other people get in the way of that goal and ruin enjoyable experiences.  Perhaps it's not the museum/playground/library's fault, but more of a cultural problem.  Is that the only way to entertain today's children, to let them run, scream, throw, and destroy?  I'd like to think not.  I'd like to think that other parents feel as I do; that it would be nice to find a quite place to sit down, learn, and leave feeling relaxed.  Does that place exist?


  1. Nice insight! You definitely get that honest! How funny it is that you have one parent that is the exact same way, and one parent that THRIVES on that.

    I think you do a great job balancing the two, especially the sacrifices you make for your children. Keep searching for answers; they will come!

    1. Maybe I'll start the Sit Down Learning Center.

  2. I have the same issues with these places as you do. Although, I think part of the problem we have with these places is that we, ourselves, do not handle them well.

    Emma will warm up to some places like this (the free-for-all that is the Polaris Mall play area) but her first reaction is to "shut down" if it is too wild. I think they get some of those introvert traits from us.

    I think it is up to us, as the parents, to recognize what our kids can handle, and where they can succeed, and then give them that environment, while also giving them some "exposure" (thank you Mrs. Corbett) to environments they are not as comfortable with.

    The fact is that they are going to have to learn to survive in some of those areas at certain times. We learned to adapt and they will too. I think it will be tough to find areas that you are looking for without creating them yourself.

    Kids need to vent occasionally and just run around and be loud, so the public places you describe serve that purpose. There is an education of sorts to be had from these areas, just not the kind they are advertising.

    1. And I think that's a good point; these places aren't what was advertised or what I desire them to be. If it was called the Frantic Yelling Center then great, I'd know what to expect.