Well after my last blog post about inadequate shade in our public playgrounds, things kind of took off!
The response was overwhelming and it was very clear – there is not enough shade over our playgrounds. Whether it’s artificial shade, or natural, there’s just not enough of it.
A call to action was requested – start a petition.
So I did.
Turns out that was kind of the “wrong” thing to do. I mean, not WRONG as such, but not really necessary at this stage. But regardless, having the names, the numbers and the figures to back up this point is truly amazing.
What was a bit hard for me was dealing with the “backlash” online from those who didn’t agree with the petition.
I am not naive. I realise what happens when you go public like this with anything, I just wasn’t expecting to be so affected by it.
People questioned my parenting. Accused me of not looking after my children. Telling me I’m wrapping our kids in cotton wool. Someone even accused me of not being a New Zealander (because of my last name) and saying what right did I have to create a petition.
To that person (and anyone else ever wondering), I am born and raised in New Zealand. Fourth generation New Zealander. My great grandfather fought in World War I. Know me before you judge me.
All of these negatives etched away at me, and I did shed a few tears and wonder if this was worth it. I started questioning myself. I ate McDonalds.
But then my Dad and my online friends said “back away from the computer and don’t read those bloody comments anymore”.
So I did. I stepped back. I started reading more on my actual Happy Mum Happy Child Facebook page and I was reassured. I had private messages from people who had covered up in sun screen their whole lives and still got melanoma. They were over the moon that this petition / conversation has been started.
The health organisations and local councils around New Zealand AGREED.
People still thought it was a good idea. Phew.
But it was still hard.
I kept coming across comments questioning my parenting, telling me that “man what ever happened to just putting on sun screen and a hat” … inside of me was SCREAMING to reply because SERIOUSLY, it’s about more than that. And it bugged me to no end that people couldn’t understand that.
I HAVE to write these points down. I have to. They’ve been in my head all day in response to everything that was said:
- My children wear sun screen every day
- My children wear hats every day
- My children wear appropriate clothing every day
- The shade is not just about protecting from skin cancer and skin damage
- The shade is about protecting our children from the heat of the sun
- The shade is about ensuring the playground equipment doesn’t heat up
- By providing shade it actually means our kids can play for LONGER on the playground
Wanting our children to not get hurt by the sun (this thing that causes cancer) IS NOT wrapping our children in cotton wool. Making them stay inside for 8 hours a day while the sun is out because it’s too hot – that’s wrapping them in cotton wool.
And yes – it is hot here in the sun from 9am until 5pm. Going by what people have said online (stay inside during the hot times) my kids would be inside all day.
Playgrounds are built to be played on. If they’re too hot to play on, it kind of defeats the purpose.
I have been reassured that those people saying ridiculous comments are not real parents. And that the real parens are the ones who understand what this petition is asking. That those people who write those comments are a “special breed” of people – and I’m beginning to see they’re right.
These people will never instil change in this world. Not with their attitudes.
It’s just so easy to get caught up in all of the negative. But I know it’s all for a good reason, and someone has to do it. I want my kids to be able to play for ages at a playground without having to drag them away because it’s too hot. Surely that’s not too much to ask!
I wouldn’t change it for the world though. Knowing that I am helping to do something that no one else has really done successfully – get people talking about adequate shade on our playgrounds.
Gosh this was a bit ranty. Sorry bout that.