Jewish Journal


June 7, 2010

Default Mom


After much contemplation, I have come to a conclusion as to why I hate parks, playgrounds or anything that has a slide, a sandbox, kids and mothers with Bluetooth headsets permanently attached to their ears.  I thought it might have had something to do with a traumatic childhood playground experience that for the life of me I can not remember or have chosen to block out of my life.  I was fearing that I may even need hypnotherapy, so that I could regress into toddlerhood and relive that traumatic experience just to figure out why I avoid parks and play dates at the park like the plague.  But luckily I figured it out on my own.  (That Masters degree in psychology does come in handy every so often).  The realization hit me after a park day last week.

My son and I headed to our neighborhood park to meet our play group (most of whom I don’t know, might I add).  On the drive over I already began cringing and it was not just from the extremely hot bright sun that could’ve burnt a hole in my windshield.  I dreaded going to the park (as I normally do), but couldn’t really figure out why.  Ok, some of the moms really annoy me.  (As you may know from previous stories I have shared.)  I also am not a fan of “One Park Stands.”  (An earlier story I wrote about meeting the perfect mom and child duo, hanging out and never seeing them again.)  But other than that, I could not really think of a reason I dreaded park days.

With dread aside, I arrived at the park with my son in one hand and a huge basket of sand toys in the other.  “Are you sure you need ALL of these sand toys?”  I asked my son, since we looked like we were headed to an archaelogical dig with all of our equipment.  Yes, he was sure.  If I wanted to, I could put back the smaller orange shovel I was told.  But as if that would really lighten the load.  We headed to the sandbox and met our group. 

As usual, the moms were too busy chatting to notice we had arrived or to notice one of their daughters pulling another girl’s pony tails because she “stole” her pail.  I pointed this out to the busy moms, for which I received a nod and a wave in the midst of pony-tail-pulling-girl’s mom shout out to her daughter, “Honey, don’t do that.  Thanks,” before she returned to her conversation with the other ladies.  It was an important topic at her circle, however, I am certain.  Why else would she not be able to leave the conversation to physically walk over to her daughter? 

Since I was not invited into the “Circle o’ Secrets,” nor did I try to make the effort to join in, I decided to do what I normally do at the park with my son, which is to play with him.  So, I grabbed the archaelogical dig equipment, a.k.a. sand toys, dumped them in the sand and began our work.  As soon as we began, other children came around and grabbed our shovels and pails.  Some asked if they could join us, others just did.  And much to my dismay, little pony-tail-pulling girl joined in and grabbed one of our shovels.  I included the children in our process and made sure all was fair in the pail and shovel sharing world.  I realized I had started a trend and a babysitting club.  I became “default mom.”  One mom even took it as a cue to get up off the park bench she had warmed up and step away even further to make a call, since I had it under control.  This was a mom I didn’t even know.  Then what took the cake was when a nanny who was playing with the kids nearby told the kids to come join our castle building area and she went to join in some conversation with the other mothers.  I am all for nannies taking breaks, of course, especially when they are there with the kid’s mother (which I always think is odd to begin with.  But that is a whole other blog…) 

Then things got out of hand.  Kids were fighting over pails, shovels, dry sand, wet sand, space in the sand box and whatever else they could think of and I was there to referee the derby dig.  Where were the mothers?  On the park bench, where else?  Just when I thought things were bad enough, they got worse.  Pony-tail-pulling girl smashed my son’s castle, grabbed the shovel out of his hand and started running with my son close behind her.  My son finally stopped her and pulled his shovel back out of her hand and said, “Next time you need to ask if you can borrow my shovel before you grab it out of my hand.”  Timed just perfectly, the girl began to cry as her mom finally walked over.  With her iPhone in on one year, she told the person “Can you hang on for a minute?” And knelt to her daughter and said, “Let’s go Sam, some kids don’t know how to play nice,” she said while glancing at me.  I wanted to say, “Like mother and daughter.”  But all that came out instead was, “You’re welcome.”  The least she could have done is thanked me for babysitting for the last forty-five minutes so she could take her call. 

We gathered up our things as the nanny came over to pick up the children


I was watching as well.  And so officially ending my mommy duties to all the other kids in the group.  Once again, I was default mom. 

Maybe with all the money I saved on therapy trying to figure it all out, I could pay off my student loans wasted on psychobabble or better yet build my very own secluded park where I can be the default mom for my son alone…or maybe I will just bring one shovel and one pail for our next dig.

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