One of the rites of passage in parenthood is spending countless hours at the local playground or park in an attempt to give your children some physical exercise. Once you’ve accumulated enough hours pushing a child on the swings, or catching a child at the bottom of the slide, it seems like you start to see the same parents over and over again.
1) The Fashionistas — these parents manage to be dressed in insta-worthy outfits no matter how early the hour or inclement the weather. Make-up is flawless, hair perfectly coiffed, nails manicured to the perfect shape and shade. Accessories are the perfect mix of casual and cute, but complements elicit, “oh this old thing?”. You’d like to dislike them if only they weren’t so darn nice.
2) The Sporty Parents — perennially clad in their designer gym gear these parents are either just coming from or going to the gym. Or they want you to think they are.
3) The So-Busy Parents — they have to go because one child has music class in thirty minutes, and the other child has gymnastics across the city, and then someone else is scheduled for yet another activity after that. So even though they are always running late, they’ll still spend five minutes talking about just how busy they are.
4) The Zombies — despite the venti-quad-shot-java-jolt latte they are clutching for dear life, these parents are so sleep deprived they wander around in a daze counting down the minutes until they can go home for nap-time.
5) The Grandparents — the g-parents usually don’t want to say “no” to their darlings, and the kids are often having SO MUCH FUN being away from mum and dad that they tend to get a little wild. Tantrums often ensue, especially when it’s time to go home. But the g-parents have so many years of experience they can usually calm, console and cajole their small charges with remarkable ease.
6) The Coffee Club – being at the playground is no impediment for these parents who still work in Starbucks social time while their little ones are running around. They are even adept at chasing after errant toddlers and kissing minor boo-boos while still holding their macchiatos.
7) The Insta-Parent – the playground is one long photoshoot for these parents who are happy to keep snapping whilst their little ones play, pose, pause-to-hashtag and then pose some more.
8) The Oversharer – some parents just love to chat to other mums and dads and there’s almost nothing they won’t divulge. All the gory details of their birth experiences? Sure! That time little Alphonsus had projectile diarrhea? Or when poor little Goneril had a sinus infection and there was mucus for miles? Absolutely! Other types of oversharers do so whilst talking on the phone. Long, detailed conversations with accountants, yelling matches with mothers-in-law, and descriptive discussions with their gynecologists are all par for the course.
9) The Anti-Helicopter Parent – these parents are determined not to be seen inferring with their children’s play — so much so that other parents end up stepping up to tell little Oberon or Coriander that jumping from the top of the tree house isn’t safe.
10) The Misfits – sometimes these parents don’t know the unspoken rules of the playground (no, total stranger, I’m not going to watch your kids while you run to the bank); sometimes they are having so much fun playing like kids that they forget to play with their kids (Millicent? Peregrine? Where are you!?).
And sometimes these parents would like to make small talk and maybe even make some mom- and dad-friends, so they loiter at the edge of a group of other parents smiling tentatively. But they never really know what to say that isn’t too awkward, or weird, or both. So even though we’re the grown ups with minivans and mortgages, sometimes it’s just like being a kid on the playground again.