My son Nyles, the playground, and the other kids who play there have had a great relationship the past couple of years. There are plenty of toys, cars and trucks at the playground, there's a slide, a jungle gym, swings, and most importantly a sprinkler which is activated when someone--usually a kid--puts his handprint on a small column, which allows the water to shoot everywhere (it is actually quite thrilling to watch). Occasionally kids who are too old or young will show up and try to take over the playground and every now and then, there are adults who unlawfully consume adult beverages while their kids are playing, but for the most part it is a lovely experience.
The wife and I usually take Nyles there for about 30 minutes, which is enough time for him to get the excess energy out of his system, interact with his peer group, and then work up the necessary hunger it takes for him to eat lunch/dinner before taking the type of nap that even hibernating bears would envy. I'll admit it doesn't always work out that neat and tidy, but that's the plan each and every time. My wife talks to the other parents at the playground trying to make new friends, and I usually keep my distance myself from that bullshit, while keeping keen eyes Nyles, who pulls five or six daredevil moves per playground visit.
Anyway, this past Sunday, Nyles was busying himself with this fancy truck, when this kid came up to him and tried to take it. Nyles politely, but forcefully took the toy back, and then this kid slapped Nyles in the face. It didn't hurt Nyles and it didn't knock him back, but it damn sure startled him. He said "Ow", and started to hit back, but the kid's mom swooped in, made the kid apologize, and then I begrudgingly stepped in and told Nyles to accept the apology. Nyles kept saying he hit me, and he had the look of a boy with revenge on his mind, but in a civilized kid's society, revenge is supposed to give way to constructive lessons to be applied going forward. I know that, the kid's mom knew that, and eventually the kids will understand it.
Two minutes after the one-sided fight, my son was pushing his truck around the playground with reckless abandon as he's wont to do. I usually tell him to slow down so he does not run over the feet of an adult or a child, but when I saw that his path seemed to be leading directly to the kid who hit him, I decided to stay out of the way, and see how this played out. Much to my delight, Nyles ran right over this kid's feet, then stopped the truck, stood straight up, and said, "Sorry" to the kid. The kid went running and crying to his mom, and I looked at the mom with a smirk on my face, gave her a shrug and then I also apologized. They left shortly thereafter.
I told Nyles not to run over anyone's feet anymore unless they hit him first. Thank God my wife wasn't there, because I may not have gotten the satisfaction of manipulating some of the variables the way I did. It's the little things that bring me joy...