Are people allowed to smoke in playgrounds? Plus: crushing on other parents
Mon Jul 20 2009
Illustration: Amy Chapman
I recently saw a parent smoking on the playground—the smoke was wafting all around the kids, mine included. Is that allowed?
No, it isn’t. The New York City Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002 explicitly prohibits smoking in playgrounds—defined as any outdoor public area where children play that contains equipment such as a slide, swing, jungle gym, sandbox or seesaw. In addition, a bill that bans smoking in all playgrounds across the state passed in the State Assembly in June. (At press time, the Senate was at a stalemate, but the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, expects it to pass there too.)
The problem is, the prohibition isn’t all that actionable. According to the fine print of the Smoke-Free Air Act, playground puffers may incur a civil penalty of $100. But try calling 311 to report someone, and you hit a wall of cluelessness. One 311 phone representative even told me that no regulations exist limiting smoking in outdoor spaces; most playground employees as well are unaware of the local law. To top it off, at some playgrounds the signs restricting dogs and glass bottles and such mention nothing about smoking.
It seems that no one is going to be arrested for lighting up near a jungle gym. So let’s implement a little vigilante justice, shall we? If you see inconsiderate folks puffing on the playground, ask them to kindly stop for the sake of the children present—as per NYC law. If they refuse, loudly instruct your child to stay away from the “poison person.” Get the point across to your tot by running wildly in the opposite direction and feigning to gag and/or gasp for air. If need be, stop, drop and roll! Either tack should do the trick of shaming the swing-set smoker.
I’m a married stay-at-home mom. My son is buddies with a little boy who has a married SAH dad, on whom I have a mini crush. Is it appropriate for us to have playdates together with our kids?
I’m not against crushing on other playground parents or flirting with those scruff-jawed dads at the park. Stay-at-home parents need a little excitement in their life. You know, beyond those milestones that don’t matter to anyone but you. (Our latest breakthrough: My son learned how to shell his own edamame!)
Joe from Blue’s Clues and the FedEx guy are not enough to fuel a fulfilling fantasy life. Personally, I like having an excuse to put on lip gloss when I leave the apartment with my kids, even if the only exchange I have with a cute parent all day is “Oh, sorry my toddler stole your son’s scooter.”
So, if your kids have a blast together, and you and Mr. Mom are capable of harmless flirting or mutual admiration, then a good time can be had by all. But... The fact that you’re asking the question leads me to believe that, in this case, a private playdate may not be a great idea. Only you know how “mini” your crush really is, and only you know what you think (or hope) may happen. But since you’re asking, I believe your best bet is to stick to the occasional playdate in a public place, where you can banter about boo-boos and bathtime without crossing any lines.
In a quandry? E-mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.