A beautiful spring day! Perfect for learning to ride your first two wheeler! We live on a steep hill, so my husband and I take the kids out to find a good spot. Down the block and around the corner, we find an empty visitor parking lot. No cars, flat paved surface, no people to disturb (as the closest house is probably 100m away and around a corner). Perfect! Here we go…..
A car drives past and rolls down the window.
“You can’t be here.”
“Sorry, what? Are we disturbing someone?”
“This is a private community. You have to leave.”
Husband and I look at each other.
There are no gates, just a small sign stating “private property” that we didn’t notice at the entrance. He tries ringing a doorbell at the nearest house in this “community” but gets the same response from the resident. “You may not use the empty visitor lot.” We weren’t making noise. We weren’t doing anything dangerous, or illegal, or even the least bit controversial.
They then ask my husband: “What if I wanted to come and ride my bike on your driveway?” His response is….”Sure! It’s covered in chalk right now as all of the neighbourhood kids have been drawing on it. Come on over! I’ll get you a beer!”
But, we end up using a nearby slanted, gravel parking lot with a few cars. (where, of course, I trip over the bike and fill MY palms with gravel. Kid fares better fortunately.)
Yes, Yes, I can hear you. I get it.
Alright alright…. fine. That is technically private property, apparently, so let’s look at public spaces.
Here’s a fairly new sign for a city-owned field.
Yes, read closely, it does indeed say:
NO food or beverages allowed.
NO chewing gum, sunflower seeds or nuts.
How about this one:
The no-smoking I get. That affects other people. (Second hand smoke and all.)
But Unauthorized field use is prohibited??
Similar signs adorn all the local playing fields in the area. Here’s my son breaking the rule.
What does that even mean? Who is it meant for?
I want to toss a ball back and forth with my children?
I want to fly a kite on the field?
Clearly, if groups have booked the field, they get first dibs….but what about when they’re empty?
Lots of people have said to me: “Just use the field! No one really cares!”
But consider this….my children are always with me. They read the sign. Do THEY get to disregard all signs? Which rules should they follow and which are good to ignore? How do they know which are reasonable? Are stop signs just suggestions? What about wheelchair accessible parking spot signs? What about this one:
Hiking is a potentially dangerous activity which could result in death? Holy smokes! Why didn’t anyone warn me? I think my parents were trying to kill me! Good thing there was this sign!!
So, in conclusion, children and their parents are not welcome in deserted parking lots, empty public fields are only for authorized use (and you can’t bring snacks anyway) and the woods are clearly going to kill you. I guess the kids can go to the one nearby playground (but only if they’re between the designated ages as stated on the play structure).
Perhaps they should all go back inside and play video games. Right? Right??