I have always loved to take Jack to the park, especially if there’s a playground with a sandbox. My kiddo loves slides, sand and trucks, so he usually has a blast when we go to the park. I was super stoked to find out there was a playground a mere two blocks from our house. We’ve gone there a couple times before and it’s always been quiet and uncrowded, which is a welcome change from the Greenlake playground. Even the playground that was close to our place in Shoreline could get ridiculous on a nice day. So it was cool to find a playground with nice equipment that wasn’t crawling in older kids ready to bowl my child over. Today is Monday, and it’s gorgeous outside, cold but wicked sunny. So I told Jack after breakfast we’d go to the park.
We walked up there and found it much more hoppin’ than usual, but still not overcrowded. There was maybe three or four other moms there with one or two kids each. Most all were in the sandbox. It was obvious that these ladies had been friends or at least acquaintances for awhile. I put on my extrovert pants, and a smile as Jack made his way toward the crowd.
Now, even when I have my extrovert pants on I’m not one to throw myself in a conversation. I don’t want to butt in or step on toes, so I put on a smile and wait for the appropriate social cues; like returned smiles, comments about your child etc. I soon discovered, these moms had no interest in being friendly…like at all. I have never felt so unwelcome before. It’s not as if I felt like I had to leave the playground, we stayed for almost two hours, it was just really, really obvious that I was not going to be invited to join in the conversation.
No one made eye contact with me, smiled at me or said anything about my kid. Even when he was playing right next to their kids and I was standing next to them, smiling at Jack, at them. I was completely ignored. Even when Jack tried to walk over a kid and I told him to go around, or when he tried to steal a toy from another child and I intervened and talked about sharing, no one said a word to me.
There was one mom who almost talked to me. Her son and Jack had the same coat on and she said “Look Mason he has the same coat as you.” I thought there was an opening, her son’s name was Mason, I could talk about the popularity of the name, how a friend and my sister are both naming their sons Mason! But before I could even form words in mouth she had run off to the other side of the sandbox and started talking to someone else. It was really weird.
There were two moms that were friendly. I approached them as Jack started to play closer to their children and they both smiled at me. I smiled back, then heard them talking quickly in Russian. So apparently, if I want to make small talk and eventually be friends with moms at this playground I need to learn Russian.
As Jack and I walked home I thought more about their unfriendliness. I eventually decided that they probably weren’t moms I’d want to be friends with anyway. If they’re going to act like that when new people come around, I don’t want to be a part of a group like that. I hate feeling left out and worse invisible. So it’s probably better they didn’t put on their fake smiles and talk to me. Especially after hearing bits of their conversation, they are just not very nice. I’d hate to hear what they were saying as Jack and I left the playground, since we left with Jack in tears due to a missed snack and sharing problems.