Given Ayaan’s newfound obsession with mud, much of our time at the park these days is spent in the sand pit. I have to admit – I love the sand pit. Ayaan really enjoys himself there and doesn’t ask to be carried around much – though one does have to be really vigilant to thwart his multiple attempts to actually eat the sand. But what’s even more interesting is that it gives me the opportunity to watch all kinds of moms in action – it’s fascinating to say the least.
I can almost unerringly make out the Working moms from the Stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs). The SAHMs are really chilled out and pay almost no attention to their kids. I think this is because they have probably spent an exhausting day with them at home already and for them the trip to the park is more like a break where the kids do their own thing. There is one such regular SAHM who actually sits by the side and plays a game on her mobile while her daughter quietly plays away in the sand by herself. The Working moms (me included), on the other hand, count this as part of their ‘quality-time’ with the kid. So you’ll usually see them down in the sand with the kids, teaching them stuff, talking to them and generally hanging around with them.
Another differentiator between moms is how strict they are with their kids. Some are almost Hitleresque in their disciple and it only needs a really mean look from them to get their kids to behave in the desired manner. At the other end of the spectrum, there are the really Laissez-faire moms who believe in just letting their kids be. These are the kids that you wish you were the mother of so that you could teach them how to behave in a public place – they take toys from other kids without asking, refuse to share their own toys, throw mud around and have a complete meltdown if they are denied anything. The Laissez-faire moms either stand around looking completely helpless or give in to every demand their little monsters make just to keep the peace. Most moms fall somewhere in the middle and seem to draw a line between what falls under letting kids learn and explore and what falls under unpardonable behaviour.
Then there are the Paranoid moms. Contrary to popular beliefs (Mama, I hope you are reading this), I am not one of these. These moms will have their kids wearing thick cotton socks in the middle of the hot, sultry summer. They usually stay away from the sand pit and if they come, they carefully scrutinise the area to find just the perfect spot where there are no ants and not too many rowdy children. They dust their kids down every few minutes even though they are going to get coated in sand again almost immediately. In summary, they are exhausting to watch. The Chilled-out moms on the other hand don’t flinch when their kids swallow a fistful of mud, laugh it off when they take a tumble and see ants and rowdy kids as part of the park package.
Finally, moms can be divided up based on how friendly they are to the other moms in their immediate vicinity. There are the Chatterboxes who are usually SAHMs who spend a majority of the day with just their kids for company and as a result are completely desperate for some adult conversation. They only have to catch sight of a somewhat friendly face and off they go. They talk your ears off and will keep on talking till you tell them it’s time for you to go. At the other extreme are the Snobs. They don’t mix with the hoi polloi in the park and tend to keep themselves and their kids apart. Most moms however, follow their kids’ leads and get around to talking to the moms whose kids their kids are playing with. Amongst the social moms who will talk to other moms, their modus operandi further divides them into subsets:
The Complainers: These women just use up all their breath in cribbing endlessly. If they are working, they crib about the fact that they don’t have enough time for their children. If they are SAHMs, they crib about boredom and exhaustion. They crib about their children’s eating and sleeping patterns. They crib about how tough it is to get them into a good school. And on and on and on…
The Comparers: The primary agenda of these women is to establish that their kid is superior to yours. They try to be subtle whilst making this point, but they are pretty easy to see through. They will start with an innocuous question about your kid like “Oh when did your son start walking?” And when you reply, they will top your answer. Sometimes, they will sugarcoat this with an “Every child is different” but you can see the smugness dripping from their smiles!
The Conversers: These are the truly nice women who talk to you because they really are interested in meeting like-minded women, swapping parenting tips and befriending the moms of their kids' friends.
Anyway, that was my attempt at a categorisation of the kind of moms I see. Which one am I you ask? Ok so maybe you didn’t ask but I’ll tell you anyway – I am a Working Semi-Hitleresque Somewhat-Paranoid Conversing Mom. Phew!