Friday, August 17, 2012

Are we still in middle school? Parent cliques SUCK

Cliques are not limited to school playgrounds and junior high hallways.   They also appear at "back to school night", PTA meetings, sports, even drop off and pick up for school. One dirty little secret of parenthood is that it comes with a pecking order.  We don't leave cliques or peer pressure behind when we grow up or when we become parents. We just graduate to a new level with adults now playing the roles.

If you take an active role in your child's school or activities then you already know this can be  an issue. And just like a clique can be hurtful for a child, it can be hurtful for an adult. Even if you think you left all of that kind of stuff behind when you joined the "grown up world" it can still come bite you in the ass when you are least expecting it. 

It is often the loudest, pushiest parents who seem to be setting the standard on what it looks like to be a caring, attentive, involved mother or father. There is certainly no one standard of "correct" parenting but many adults behave like assholes while pursuing it.  This often becomes most obvious - and obnoxious - as children reach school age or begin extracurricular activities.  

Enter SPORTS. I have been a part of many groups since my kids started school. Volunteer groups, class parents, Girl Scouts, you name it , I probably volunteered for it. I was also teaching at a local preschool, so a lot of people knew me, or at least knew who I was. Then Teenzilla started cheer for the local little league. She had played soccer, and basketball, but never had I encountered such closed ranks as I did within this Football/Cheer organization. after her first year I became an assistant coach- and I loved it! Not only did I get to be around cheer, I was now part of this "Cool Kid Club" filled to the brim with doctors, lawyers, teachers and well known people in the community. The next year I took the head coach position and did that for 3 more years.

This year I am not coaching. I get to be a MOM. I get to watch The Boy practice and sit in the stands for ONLY ONE GAME!!  Teenzilla is all done cheering and is now junior coaching. It is so much more relaxing now at practice.   

But now I am a nobody. The coaches that I worked alongside, cheering victories and mourning losses act as if they don't even know me. I am just another parent at the field, and not a part of their exclusive club any longer. And it stings. I don't expect to be right in the middle of all the action anymore, but damn! To be treated like a virtual stranger, all of the time spent together apparently forgotten, yeah it kinda hurts.

I have tried to become as involved as I can so far- asking about helping the Team Mom and offering to fill in as a sub for the cheerleaders if one of the coaches has to be absent, only to be pretty much blown off. 

So be it. A chapter in my life has come to an end, more abruptly than I would have liked, but I did have a great time while I did it.I am beyond proud that The Boy wants to play again this year. One of the girls wrote an essay last year about a person she admired- and she wrote it about me..pretty damn cool! I made the decision to "retire" as it were, and now I will fulfill my mandatory volunteer commitments and call it good. I have made some good, true friends, and am very happy for that. I will be just as encouraging to all the players as I have always been.   And I will  be the loudest mom in the stands!