Last year was my first playground summer. I learned a lot about parenting by watching the other moms around me – what I should and shouldn’t do. Here is a list of who you should expect to see at your local playground.
1. The Scared Mom – This mom is usually exclusive to moms with children who are new walkers. They are the moms that are either right beside their child at all times or aren’t very far behind. They are always saying encouraging words, with a look on their face that’s a cross between amusement and fear. They want their child to try to do things, but they’re terrified of what could happen. It’s best to leave these moms alone unless you know them well. They want their full attention on their children.
2. The Bored but Smiling Mom – This is usually the mom who has a baby and was invited by someone with an older child. This mom didn’t realize just how little they could do with their baby but really wanted to get out of the house. If it’s a first-time mom, they are slightly overwhelmed by the number of screaming children running around but trying not to show it. This mom is very friendly and is just taking it all in.
3. The Drama Mama – This is the mom that is watching her child’s every movement, no matter what age, and walks around with trepidation and hand sanitizer. She’s a nervous wreck, assuming the worst will happen or will turn something minor into the worst. She actually hates the playground. Her bag has every brand of ibuprofen, Benedryl, two kinds of bandaids, alcohol rubs, an EpiPen, a granola bar, a piece of sugarless candy, Kleenex, organic sunscreen with the highest SPF possible, a list of emergency numbers that she keeps up to date weekly, her phone, and bottled water.
4. Old Yeller – This is the mom constantly barking orders at her children at a decibel much higher than most. She isn’t mean, offensive, or abusive – she’s just loud. She usually has more than two children and may appear at her wit’s end.
5. The ‘Let It Go’ Mom – This mom carefully watches her child from a distance because she wants her child to learn how to do things for himself. If the child falls, as long as there are no blond or bones broken, she kisses the boo-boo and tells the child to walk it off.
6. The iPhone Mom – This mom sees the playground as a babysitter and time for her to get some work done. She arrives, finds a comfy spot, tells her children to have fun, and pulls her phone out of her purse. She is aware of what her child is doing, but she tends to be too aloof for other moms to approach.
7. The Mom Group – This applies to a group of moms that go everywhere together. They gather, set their kids off, and talk in a group. These moms are often impeccably dressed for the playground and seem as close to perfect as possible. Someone has an eye out for all the kids at all times.
8. The Dad – The dad is usually a lot more relaxed than any of the moms at the playground. He may or may not be friendly, but it’s worth saying hello. Some may really be out of their comfort zone.
9. The Talker – This is the mom that will strike up a conversation with any other mom in her vicinity – at the swings, by the slide, near the climbing wall. Chances are good she will give you her contact info by the time you leave, and you’ll have scheduled a play date by the end of the day.
10. The Grandparent – If the kids are under five, the grandparent looks exhausted and frustrated in a different way than the average parent. Age is a factor. Help the grandparent when you can, as often as possible because they might have trouble keeping up.
Of course, these are all exaggerations! I’m sure most of us fit these descriptions a bit at different times. I know I do!