I love the park at St. Clair and Spadina. It’s become one of my favourite places to be lately. Every morning before work I spend an hour there and just walk around the track and watch the birds and the flowers and the dogs and the CN Tower and the people. Usually the people. The people make the place what it is.

It’s a great place, as I’ve mentioned before, but it’s not perfect. Every once in a while something happens that makes me frown just a little bit, and today I saw a few such things.

Normally I start work at 9:00 or so, which means that my walk ends at about that time. From 8:00 to 9:00, the park is inhabited by various runners, walkers, dog lovers, and tennis players, but no kids. Kids are still sleeping at that time.

Today my shift started at ten, and so as my walk progressed, a few kids started to trickle in with their parents. In total, I saw five kids belonging to three different parents.

The first parent I saw was a father. He was wearing athletic clothing and was carrying his daughter, who looked to be no more than five, in his arms in such a way that she was facing the same direction as him. He was doing squats with her in his arms.

The second parent was a mother, also wearing athletic clothing. She had two kids with her in a stroller: a girl who looked about two years old, and a boy who looked about three. The girl was asleep, but the boy was awake. And she was running with the stroller, while listening to her iPod.

The third parent was also a mother of two: a boy of about five, and a girl of about three. The boy had a tennis ball in his hand while the girl was on a swing. The boy would throw the ball, and the mother would run to get the ball, and toss it back. While the boy was retrieving the ball, the mother would dash over to the daughter and give her a push on the swing before returning in time to catch the ball when her son threw it to her, and the cycle would repeat.

The first parent was using his daughter as extra weight for his workout. I’m sure that the daughter enjoyed the jerky up-and-down motion, but
that doesn’t erase the main issue: He was using his daughter as a means
to an end. His goal was to get a good workout; his daughter’s joy was a side effect. She didn’t ask him to do squats with her in
his arms – he did that for himself.

The second parent was just as bad as the first man, because she too was
blatantly using her children as a means to an end. She wasn’t running
around the track with them for their amusement – the kids were only
there to provide a little bit of resistance. The fact that one of her
kids wasn’t even awake is proof of that, as is the fact that she was
drowning out all other noise with her iPod. The kids didn’t ask her to go for a run with them in the stroller – she did that for her own benefit.

The third parent was the only one who I had any respect for. In her case, the
children were the end, not the means. If the woman got a good cardio
workout out of her actions, good for her, but what she intended was for
her kids to have fun. In other words, the workout was the means to the
end of her children having a good time.

Children are an end, not a means. 

It’s really that simple. Honestly, I’m baffled that some parents are still unclear on this.

I’m not saying that you need to dedicate 100% of your time to your
kids. That’s both impractical and impossible. What I’m saying is that
you can’t use your kids with the sole intent of benefitting yourself. If you can’t figure that out, don’t bother mating.