This post originally appeared on the Bellani Maternity blog.
This is a common scene, right? We’re driving home from running some errands and decide as a treat to stop by the playground to kill some time. The four of us roll into Humboldt Park, and the kids proceed to tear it up in the way that kids do.
(As a side note, because we hadn’t exactly planned to go to the playground, and because we sometimes let the kids influence what we dress them in, Eloise was wearing an adorable but completely impractical skirt and brand new white sandals. Just the thing. We must have looked like those parents who dress their daughter in inappropriately dressy girly clothes all the time. We’re not those parents!)
There were a handful of people there, including three mothers, each with a young daughter about the same age, who seemed to be casually acquainted. One of their kids kind of wandered over to where Eloise was playing and so the three of us ended up tossing a ball back and forth. The new kid, Sadie, was adorable, and the small talk with her mother was pleasant, and I thought, “Hey, new friend?”
And then they had to leave and I found myself kind of weakly waving goodbye.
How do new parents connect with one another and schedule these “playdates” that I’ve heard so much about? I’m sure that we’re at something of a disadvantage because both Rachel and I work full time, so we’re not often a part of the weekday kid scene. (Back before I went back to work, I befriended some of the other parents in the delightful classes we took at Bellani, but since I was demoted from “stay-at-home dad” to just “dad” I haven’t had a chance to see any of them.) But even on a weekend, when I do make meaningful eye contact or pleasant chit-chat with another parent hovering by the jungle gym, I have no idea how to seal the deal.
I think it’s so awkward and difficult because it’s essentially like trying to hit on someone you just met; I wasn’t any good at that back when I was single, and I’ve been cozily partnered up for more than a decade. There’s just no way I’m going to be able to successfully pick someone up at a playground.
I often wonder how much of it is gender-related. I see little clutches of moms that seem to gather together as if by some kind of electromagnetic force. Is new parenting secretly a “no boys allowed” club? Or does a guy wandering up to a bunch of women just exacerbate the creepy pick-up vibe? “Hi there. I think our kids are about the same age… laydeez.”
(This reminds me of a YouTube video that’s a couple of years old but is still, I think, funny. There’s probably nothing in it that’s precisely inappropriate for a family-friendly blog like this, but I feel that I should warn you, as Ira Glass occasionally says, that this video does acknowledge the existence of sex.)
I am generally baffled as to how new parents find each other. Most of our pre-kid friends still don’t have kids, and although we’ve met a few new friends with children, our social circle seems pretty narrow. How do you all do it?Filed under Parenting | Comment (1)