I’m no longer playing the field. But I’m finding that making friends with other parents feels a lot like dating.
From the outside it looks like we zookeepers-for-little-people have a lot in common: car seats, sleep deprivation, hundreds of pounds of goldfish crackers. But that’s like assuming classmates in high school can be friends.
Have you seen Mean Girls? Did you go to high school? There are groups, and it’s important to know which one you’re part of.
Now, I hated cliques in high school and I was not cool.
So I was bummed to find out that making friends in parent-land can occasionally feel like getting a date to the prom or chatting up a hot prospect at a bar. But it does. And here’s how it goes down.
You see a mom or dad chasing a toddler-pet across the bark chips. The parent appears to have showered (or not, whichever you prefer), and might have a personality. You bring your child to play nearby. Then, in the time it takes for your child to go down the slide or fall off the climbing structure, you try to figure out a few key things that will determine your compatibility.
If you’re introverted, you might just hand the other parent a quiz card. It could look something like this:
Hi! Maybe we could, like, get together for a play date at a mutually-agreed-upon-central-location sometime. First, let’s see if we’re a good match. Please just answer honestly below!
Choose the answer that best fits you…
Your discipline style is more like: A) A tour of the Tower of London, or B) Four hours at an Ani di Franco concert.
Your baby sleeps: A) In bed with you till college, or B) Get yo’ own room, little mo’fo’.
You think sugar is… A) The antichrist, or B) Delightful! I carry it raw in a pouch in my diaper bag.
Your baby generally wears: A) Ralph Lauren or baby Chanel, or B) It’s hard to decide between organic tie-dye and hand-woven hemp.
Thanks for your candor! I’ll be back (or not) after I tally your score.
I’m an extrovert, so I generally talk through this stuff. I can usually get to the end of the play-date-mating-dance by the time K-Pants has paraded around on his toddler bike a few times.
But some days a potential parent-friend arrives just as you’re leaving the park.
This calls for a different strategy: I roll K-Pants around in the sawdust and see if our maybe-new-friend looks on in horror or picks up a handful of chips and gives a thumbs up. In that case, this promance* is on!