DEAR MISS MANNERS: My young daughter contends that it is rude of children she doesn’t know to try to join her playground games. She likes to play alone, with just one or two close friends, or with me.
I think the young strangers are usually being friendly, but I do recall, from several of your columns, that it is poor manners to attempt to engage a stranger in public.
For this reason, I see precedence for allowing my daughter to coldly dismiss these kids. However, I wonder if there are rules of the public playground that require more warmth. She knows I read your column and would, I think, be swayed by your words.
GENTLE READER: How clever of her. However, there is indeed a difference between children and adults in this situation.
Playgrounds are a social meeting ground for children. And while children should not assume that they can automatically join in another’s play, they should be greeted with civility if they ask politely. If their presence is truly unwelcome, your daughter could say, “I’m so sorry, but I came here to play with a friend who I rarely get to see. Maybe another time we will both be here and we can play together then.”
Miss Manners feels compelled to add that there will likely come a day, whether at the playground or at a social club or mixer, when your daughter herself will want to approach an attractive stranger. Surely then she will likewise want to be treated with kindness.