Mall Parent Child Observation
9-17-2011 INDIVIDUAL PROJECT: CHILD AND PARENT OBSERVATION This observation took place on Saturday October 17th at Town Center Corte Madera at approximately 2:00pm. The day was bright and sunny and the Mall was full of all kinds of parents and children. I choose a male child approximately 3 years old, wearing blue top and black pants with sponge bob square pants sneakers. The mother was wearing a yoga outfit as most mothers in Marin seem to wear these days. She was in her mid-thirties.
Dad was also present, he wore a short sleeved Hawaiian print shirt with Khaki shorts and flip flops, and he too seemed to be in his mid-thirties. I was sitting at the table near the elephant fountain facing the fountain with my back to the store so know one could read over my shoulder for this observation. I chose this area so I could be close enough to her the conversations and far enough away as to not be noticed. I had my lap top out so as to seem inconspicuous. As the family arrived I noted that both mom and dad held a hand of their child as they approached the area.
The child had a big smile on his face, and the parents seemed taken by his mood. Both the parents and the child sat down at a table across the small court yard from where I was. Almost immediately after sitting down the young boy let go of both the mother and the fathers hands and gingerly walked over to the fountain where other children were already playing. As the child moved a way from the parents approximately four steps toward the fountain he turned and looked at both mom and dad, the mother said “it’s ok, go ahead Dillon, the father smiled and opened his eyes wide and nodded as if to say go for son.
The child turned and moved in the direction of the elephant fountain. The mother and father both watched intently as the boy moved on. A few steps from the circle of the fountain (which sits up higher than the ground with a brass ring around it to stop people from falling in) the boy met a girl of approximately the same age as him. He stopped and looked at her; she seemed a bit more out going than the boy. She was wearing a flowery dress and little white buckled shoes. Her mom was sitting talking on her cell phone wearing high heels and a fancy black dress; unaware of the child’s actions.
The little boy stopped and looked at the little girl. The little girl reached out with her left hand to pat the little boy on the head. This frightened the little boy and he started to cry a little bit. His mom got up out of her chair and came over to him and comforted him with a hug. The father stayed in his chair reading the paper. The mom told him in a soft voice that the little girl was trying to be friends with him, and she held him by the waist with both hands as the little girl tried again to touch his hair.
This time the little boy allowed it and giggled. The mother of the little girl glanced down from her phone conversation and smiled, however she did not get up or interact with the situation taking place. Then the mother of the boy sat down again, always keeping an eye on her son. The little boy made his way around the fountain, at one point he lay down on the lip of the fountain and touched the water that was coming out of the side jets of the fountain.
His mother immediately got up and moved toward him and held him by the waist as a safety precaution. This action delighted the boy and he giggled and smiled as he passed his hand through the water. By now the mother of the little girl had gathered her up and they had left the area, so the boy and his parents had the fountain to themselves for now. After seeing how much fun mom and son were having dad put down the paper and moved over to join them at the side of the fountain. Dad told Dillon what a good boy he was and he kissed his wife on the cheek.
The three of them played by the fountain, both mom and dad sat and watched as Dillon made his way around the fountain stopping now and again to touch a chair at one of the tables near the fountain, he would always look to both parents to see if what he was doing was OK with them. They would smile and nod and he would giggle and keep moving. At one point Dillon was on the far side of the fountain from his parents almost at my feet, and he bent down and with his left hand hit my shoe. I laughed inside, however the parents were very taken aback by Dillon’s actions and apologized to me.
I told them it was OK, and went back to work on my laptop. They did not reprimand Dillon, they just told him to come over to them, which he did. When he arrived at mom, she gave him a hug and held him close. She smiled at me and I smiled back and tried to look busy with my lap top. Dad rubbed the top of his head and Dillon seemed to be very content. However he was losing interest in the fountain and started to wander away from mom and dad into the area of the mall that is busier. Dillon’s mom and dad both got up from their chairs and followed him as he walked and occasionally stumbled.
Each time he fell down mom or dad and sometimes both of them were there to support him and hold him. As they moved farther away from me I could see that dad had picked Dillon up and was carrying him on his shoulders much to Dillon’s amazement. Mom and Dad were also holding hands as they walked away through the mall heading south. CONCLUSION From my observation of this Family I got a sense that Dillon was much loved by both parents, both had a great sense of where he was and what he was doing while at the fountain, even though the dad was reading the paper.
The love that came from both parents was obvious, also the ability to let Dillon venture out on his own, but be supportive with hand gestures or smiles and vocalizing when he did something good, or when he needed their help, they were right there. This seemed in sharp contrast to the mother and daughter that were also at the fountain. The mother seemed to just let the little girl go off and explore, without engaging her with encouragement or concern.