Emma is nearly two now and every now and then I force myself to attend a playgroup with her. I say force because I cannot even begin to explain how much I hate going to them – its like being the new kid at school every single time.
During my time at several different groups I’ve come to recognise several different types of parents.
The Competitive Parent
We all know this one right? The one who’s little one is dressed head to toe in designer gear, the one who arrives without a hair out of place, the one who starts to boast about their little ones achievements before anyone has even got a cup of tea, the one who doesn’t even acknowledge your name before telling you how their marvellous creation slept through the night from 6 weeks, speaks 5 different languages and is already registered for 3 different universities. You must take extreme care to avoid this parent, they will only make you feel inferior and rubbish.
The one who makes you question everything you do. If you can somehow match The Judge with The Competitive Parent and then walk away you deserve a big pat on the back. These two deserve each other.
The Contented Parent
This is the parent everyone wants to be around – the nice one, the one that doesn’t judge, the one that will play with all the children, the one that will give you a hug if you need it. Finding and managing to keep hold of the Contented Parent is like catching a Golden Snitch. Once you’ve got that person its game over and everything is going to be just fine. The only problem you will have is that everyone else wants to talk to and be around this person as well due to the contagious aura of total parenting Zen they emit. Your tactic must be to stick close but don’t stalk – you can loose them easily.
The Invisible Parent
Now this is the one that really grinds my gears and if I’m honest is mostly the reason I don’t go to playgroups. They turn up with their child / children and then proceed to ignore them for the next 45 minutes. They busy chatting with other Invisible Parents while their darlings run riot pushing other kids over, taking toys and leaving a trail of snot where ever they go. The Invisible Parent makes playgroups a horror for all other parents and the really annoying thing is they have no idea. Because they aren’t paying attention.
The Deer in Headlights
This is usually me. The parent who stands slightly off to the side because they aren’t really sure where to be or who to talk to. We only appear at playgroups every now and then. We tend to follow our little ones around because we don’t know where else to go or what we are supposed be. Being a Deer In Headlights is a bit of a terrifying and lonely experience so I implore you, if you ever come across one of us please come and say hello. You never know, we might work up the guts to come back another time. It is very possible for a Deer in Headlights to become a Contented Parent if given the right guidance.
The Anxious Parent
Now if I’m not stuck in Deer in Headlights mode then I am in full Anxious Parent mode. I love my daughter to the ends of the earth but will happily admit she is a tiny rage filled machine. If she isn’t eating then she is having a tantrum because she isn’t eating / colouring / playing with cars / being made to sit still. You know the bit at the end of playgroups where everyone sits down nicely to sing and there is always that one child screaming? Yep. That’s usually mine. Sorry about that. Now an Anxious Parent can also become a Contented Parent and is usually a great candidate for such an elevation. Not only because they will never judge you for having a toddler that throws tantrums but because they also offer constructive advice and many many hugs.
So next time you go to a group try to be a Contented Parent and find a Deer in Headlights or an Anxious Parent and reel them in. You never know, they could be the friend and playgroup buddy you’ve been looking for……….