Outside the Fence: I Don't Like the Other Moms at School

5 years ago
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When Little Guy was five, we lucked out with admission to a full time Pre-K program at a school outside of our zone. It was a year of tardies (I say without pride that I was notorious for those) thanks to our mile long walk that was not alleviated by the public transit system. But despite the daily trek, our first venture in school was great. Little Guy loved being at school. I loved picking him up afterwards... and it wasn't just because we couldn't be marked tardy heading back home. It was because I always looked forward to the afternoon chats with the other moms.

We chatted about homework and shopping. We made plans for playdates and museum trips, childfree coffeeshop trips.

But before I spend too much time reminiscing, I'll just say it: I don't like after school pickup at Little Guy's new school.

I stop short of saying I don't like the moms at this school, because I'm sure a majority of them are nice. But so many of them move so quickly from picking up their kids to leaving that there isn't much of a chance to chat. Then there are those moms that arrive early, chatting in their small groups. I could easily walk up and introduce myself, but instead I stand outside the fence of the play yard catching up on my e-mails.

Credit: eyeliam.

Yesterday afternoon just highlighted the reason for my apprehension. I was standing within the play yard while the classes were being dismissed, and I could overhear bits of chatter from a group of moms next to us. "Look at her today," one said to the other. "Yeah, she was wearing skinny jeans yesterday." I realized they were talking about one of the other moms as she walked past them. "What kind of tights are those? I could get them for 3.99 from the kids store."

"Who does she think she is? Lady Gaga?"

They were standing among a crowd of laughing moms and the group was within earshot of the woman they were gossiping about. One was even standing with her preteen daughter.

I mentally reiterated to myself that I don't like being there.

I've shifted my ideas of what this post is really about. Is it about how these grown women believed it appropriate to gossip in front of their children? Or maybe how mothers of daughters could find amusement in judging another woman based on her appearance. Maybe it's about allowing the actions of a few to discredit the whole.

But I suppose really this post is about how cautious I've become making new friends since becoming a mom. I made the mistake early of believing motherhood could be the sole bond to a friendship, but in the end was disappointed at how little the other women and I had to talk about or agree upon.

Then I have to figure out what to say when Little Guy asks where his playdate buddy is. What do I tell him? "Mommy didn't want to be friends with his mommy." I'm supposed to be teaching him how to interact with others and build relationships. Yes, teaching him how to end relationships sort of just comes with the territory, but I can't let that be the only action he sees me doing. So I've been passive in pursuing friendships, instead relying on my husband's seemingly natural magnetism to teach Little Guy about friendship.

And along the way, I'll been taking notes for myself.