Thursday, May 04, 2006

Playground gossip

I kind of hate encountering stay-at-home moms at our local playground. Fortunately, it's a rare event, but it's on my mind since it happened again this morning.

First off, they assume I'm a SAHM too, which makes me v. sad. In my dreams, mamas! If only. During this stage, they engage in that competitive "How old is he/oh he's so tiny/mine was walking-talking-finishing his dissertation at his age" bullshit that makes me want to run away while dragging my train of toddlers behind me. I know these mamas are trying to connect with me and ease their fears about their own kids' development, but it sucks. Once I tell them I run a family child care program, one of several things happens:

a) They flat-out ignore me for the rest of our time at the playground, like I'm not worth the investment of their time. This is the rudest option, but I prefer it to the options that follow.
b) They make judgments about the kids' parents, which pisses me off. That's when I ignore them.
c) They ask personal questions that are none of their business. "How much money do you make?" is a favorite.
d) They say fucked-up things about how I'm the kids' real parent since I spend so much time with them, so I have to tell them off (politely, though--there are children present!).
e) They start to list all of their kids' accomplishments and early milestones. This one used to puzzle me, but I think it's a defensive response to my master's degree in child development, like I'm some sort of crazy kid expert. Again: I wish!

In the 16 months that I've been running my program, I haven't had a single normal conversation with a SAHM at the playground (come to think of it, in the 10+ years I've been doing child care, I've only had 2 regular conversations with SAHMs at the playground). I wish there were a primer or an etiquette guide on this topic. Hey, maybe I can write one and get rich and famous! Nah, I'm too bitter.


Anonymous Jenny PP said...

Oooooooo. Write one, but make it channel a non-bitter personality. You will totally be famous.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

Maybe I could sell it to a big publishing house after I write my bestseller "That is Not a Choice." Ha!

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Hashbrown said...


7:08 PM  
Blogger Canada said...

I hate the competitive thing. Who cares how early a kid walked - unless you're relaying a funny "I wasn't expecting him to walk so soon, and . . . " story. I have the ultimate competitive mom (also of twins) next door. Yeesh. Slap me if I turn into one (btw, I don't consider myself to be a SAHM, because I work part time!)

11:09 PM  
Blogger Canada said...

PS Write the book!! It can become a Virtual Bookworm recommendation!

11:10 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

Canada, if I ran into you at the playground, I'd love talking to you! I can't see you asking about my income or berating people you don't know about the choices they've made for their families.

Also, I feel for you regarding your neighbor. It sounds cool for the kids to have twins next door (and they're similar ages, right?), but I just can't handle all that competitive crap. Part of me wants to give an impromptu lecture about multiple intelligences; part of me wants to give an impromptu lecture about early childhood outcomes; and part of me wants to give an impromptu lecture about manners.

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Jenny PP said...

Oh my God, if you ever write a book you absolutely have to call it "This Is Not a Choice" because I would die laughing.

Well, I guess you shouldn't then unless you want to kill me. ;)

9:14 AM  
Blogger Canada said...

So. . . how much money DO you make? (hee hee!)

10:15 AM  
Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

Oh, honey. Just wait til HW comes. They will not know what to do with you because! You will be a SAHM...but you'll also be working...
There are cool SAHMs out there, honey, but the ones you've got are just scared. Scared makes for competitive and rude, ultimately, IMHO.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Clementine said...

I know, PK, but too bad they don't stop by my local playground! I've met some rad SAHMs at libraries, coffeeshops, art stores, etc., but I seem to strike out at the playground. Sigh.

9:56 PM  

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