One of the joys of motherhood is that sometimes you find yourself in situations that smack of the social hierarchy of teenage girls and the social pecking order that you assumed you’d left back in high school. One of the things that my grown-ups never shared with me was that, even as grown-ups, some people never stop campaigning for the title of Prom Queen. There will always be a gossip monger, a shy girl, a natural leader and her faithful hangers-on. Every group has a class clown and the handful of cynical girls who feel that the rest of us are simply a herd of vanilla sheep.
There is a seemingly endless stream of adults who have carried those social quirks well into their (almost) middle years. Thankfully, most have outgrown their Goth wardrobes and realized that the black hair dye just makes them look sallow and old.
Last week, I attended a parent meeting for my daughter’s cooperative preschool and, since we’re the new kids, this was my first meeting. Upon arrival, as is my normal modus operandi, I located my clique because yes, we still kind of do that. I sat on the fringes, introduced myself to the stranger at the adjacent table with a smile then proceeded to become a fly on the wall. At least, I tried to be the fly on the wall.
Throughout the history of me, I’ve alternated between fly on the wall and girl who unwittingly finds herself running with the ‘social set’ despite what I think is my weird personality. I tend to alternate between funny girl and tortured soul. In high school I was surprised one morning by the class advisor informing me that I’d been nominated for Prom Queen. I was shocked, kind of grossed out and embarrassed but also thrilled that someone liked me. I was slightly upset that I was lumped in with some of the other nominees, a few of whom were of the not-so-nice variety of girls. Oh God, I thought, do people think that I’m one of them?
I’ve digressed, haven’t I? Back to the preschool parent meeting…
Fly on the wall posture assumed, I sat back and observed. I think that, like most writers tend to be, I’m a people watcher. I’m not just a people watcher, but a people absorber. I sat and politely listened to the issues at hand at the school. Eventually the reminder that we are a cooperative preschool came up and someone on the executive committee attempted to tactfully suggest that, as parents, we should actually try to cooperate with the various committees. She nicely explained that responding to e-mail is a lovely gesture, as is attendance at carefully planned school functions. The word “cohesive” was thrown out into the room and that was when I noticed that a woman sitting near me began to squirm. Closer inspection revealed that the word “cohesive” was hanging over her head and poking her.
It was annoying her.
Moments later that woman, let’s call her Ann T. Social, spoke up and said, “On the subject of cohesion, I’m not here to make friends. I’m here for my child.” She said more on the subject but I was too busy thinking, Oh-Kaaay, she’s a kind of a bitch to listen.
Just days before our (cooperative) preschool meeting, I invited all of the moms in my daughter’s class over for a night out that involved cocktails. One of those moms was Ann T. Social. Well, Ann didn’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge the invite, let alone show up. So as she made her bitchy announcement to all of the parents of the preschool all I could think was, what a fucking asshole.
Evidently mommies like Ann T. Social have already filled their lifetime friend quota. In the future, perhaps we should all be required to wear a highly visible Friendship Gauge. Just think about the convenience that the gauge would offer. As we’re introducing ourselves to new parents each year we can all just cut to the chase and skip niceties with the ones proudly displaying their already over-flowing Friendship Gauge.
No hard feelings, honey…I’ve filled my quota. See? It says so right here on my gauge.
Following Ann T. Social’s obnoxiously public snub of every person in the room, a few of us made eye contact, subtly validating that we each thought her remark seemed (über-bitchy) crazy. On my ride home I started thinking about the different personalities I’ve encountered in my fledgling career as the mother of school-aged children. I mentally checked off the list of women that I’ve encountered along the way. Yup, I’m pretty sure that high school never ends and I can’t wait to blog about it. Don’t worry; I’m fairly sure that Ann T. Social doesn’t read Narragansett No. 7.