Friday, January 11, 2008

The Playground Mafia

When I lived next to my best friend, Sarah, we would joke about some of the moms on the playground across the street from us. Okay, we didn't exactly joke. We mocked them over red wine, cheese, and Oprah. When I met Sarah, she had five kids (she still does, which is a testament to her amazing patience since other moms would have had at least one "go missing" if they had to endure the hormonal soup she partakes of each day with all those teens) and even though she had a two year-old, she also had an almost twelve year-old, which put her in a different category from the moms with just young kids.

As a result, I didn't see Sarah at the park with the other moms too often. When she did have the time to go there, it was usually while her older children were in school. That's also when I would meet up with her.

At the time, I had a baby and a five and seven year old. I was on the fence. I wasn't just a mom of young kids and my older girls were older, but barely. I had a questionable age gap between my second and third (what can I say? I like the big age gaps - it's wayyy easier to parent when you can teach your ten year-old to drive to the store for you). Although I may have still been eligible for membership, I chose to live in Sarah's world and the Playground Mafia took notice.

The Playground Mafia were the mommies who only went to the park in tight clusters, they never went alone with just their own children. All the children were young and closely spaced, with most of them somewhere between two and five. When the Mafia was on the 'ground, you either joined in or waited until they left. Membership was tight, and there were rules, people.

I used to be in the Mafia. I was the mom with the zippered pouches of goldfish, juice boxes, diaper bag, change of clothes, extra fruit snacks, and two or three educational toys packed for a thirty minute jaunt to the park with my two and four year old. I stamped. I scrapbooked. My entire home was overrun with the girls' toys and crafting supplies. I hosted playgroups, attended playgroups, scrimped begged and borrowed money so that the girls could attend the Gymboree "Mommy and Me" classes. I lived in fear that if I didn't stimulate my girls with outings, activities, something all the time, I was a failure and they would end up smoking on the corner in between classes before sixth grade. While nursing their newborn.

When I first met Sarah, we were chatting at the bus stop as we waited for our kids to go to school. I was frantic. I had been turned down as a Room Mom in my second grader's classroom. I was near tears. The policy at this school allowed for only one room mom, and my other neighbor, Laura, had been chosen. I would apply for co-room mom! I would make them see that if I wasn't manically involved with every aspect of my children's lives they would stop breathing. Or worse, grow up and vote Republican. Sarah just listened to me. When I stopped, she put her hand on my shoulder.

"You'll get over it. We all do."

...to be continued...

33 comments:

Crystal said...

Oh I like this Sarah already. I don't think I could make it through parenting without a couple Sarah's in my life.

Circus Kelli said...

Yes, I'm liking Sarah, too. I can't wait to read the next "installment."

The Playground Mafia scares me in so many ways.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Nothing like the voice of reason to change your life for the better! And there's nothing like a mocking partner.

Nancy said...

Playground Mafia ... Mom's who can wear half an orange peel over their teeth properly.

I secretly loved taunting the room mother's of my kids class.

If the sent a note home TELLING me I HAD to send in 35 12 oz. plastic cups, I'd send in 35 8 oz. blue ones =)

Such a mature rebel I was eh?

kristen said...

I live in fear of being chosen "room mom"— way too much responsibility for me, way too much contact with other parents. I also live in fear of the Playground Mafia, so basically, I spend a lot of time hiding at home.

Candy said...

That whole Playground Mafia thing gave me anxiety. I hate those women. I was never "one of them" and my kids always looked scruffy and dirty. I'm glad they're older now, if not cleaner.

trinity67 said...

Sarah is awesome - am waiting with bated breathe for the next instalment.

painted maypole said...

HA HA. I see a little bit of me in both the playground mafia, AND in Sarah. I do a lot of the playground mafia things (or did, before MQ was in school full time) but also often go the park myself, and have NEVER taken my child to a mommy and me class. ;)

Interested to see where this is going!

Amy F. said...

i was a victim of the playground mafia this past week. i was really pissed. my outgoing son was trying to play with some of the kids and he was repeatedly ignored. aren't we all in this motherhood thing together?? what happened to sisterhood. bitches!

Jen M. said...

I actually never thought of the Playground Mafia as a group of mean moms. Not at ALL. I was one!

By mafia I mean a tight-knit group of people where membership is closely defined - and the traveling in groups.

myminivanisfasterthanyours said...

I already liked you, but the "Or worse, grow up and vote Republican" line pushed me to whole new level of love for you :)

Jenn C. said...

I knew I liked you, and your "or worse, grow up and vote Republican" quip reaffirms it. Love your blog. Best of luck on your book!

My sister's 4th baby is due in March. I'm sending her to your blog.

Mrs. G. said...

When my children were smaller, I was ALWAYS on the periphery of the Playground Mafia. I was probably over near the bushes talking to Sarah.

Madame Queen said...

The playground mafia has a two top secret bosses -- The Publishing Industry a The Media. They're the ones always telling us what we're doing wrong and pitting us moms against each other in the Mommy Wars!

I wanted to be a member of the Playground Mafia -- after all, all the books told me that's what I should want. but I could never seem to "get it together" enough to be one.

Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

Catherine said...

Our local Playground Mafia is above the rules ... the posted rules. It was as they were eating their snacks under the sign that said "no food or drink" (it was the indoor rec center playground) that I realized I wouldn't fit in with their manicured hands and perfectly coiffed hair. OH! and IRONED clothes. Who irons their clothes to go to the playground?

Cathy said...

I think I love Sarah. Can't wait to hear the rest...

AnotherMomCreation said...

Oh how I wanted to be "in" the playground mafia, but it was not meant to be.... you see I have no trouble taking my kids the playground alone, or to a new random playground.... oh well.
I don't have perfectly quaffed hair, a manicure or fancy clothes.

Jennifer said...

To be continued??! But...I was getting into it! Okay, then. Play that way.

I'll wait.

Hee.

I've never been in the Playground Mafia. I have, however, been frightened of the Playground Mafia at times. (Not because they were/are mean. Just so much more organized and together than I could ever hope to be. Also? I like going places alone with my kids.) Can't wait to hear the rest of this story.

wheelsonthebus said...

THat's the kind of friend we all need.

Emily

Dee said...

I can't wait to read more! I've tried to become a member of TPM in the past...but it's just not me. I was once kicked out of a mommy group for suggesting we *gasp* meet up. Apparently, I didn't have the written consent of the group leader to take such liberties...

Marie said...

Riveting, can't wait for the next bit!

Family Adventure said...

I was caught in the troes of it while in Canada, too. Being away for a year has made me realize just how stressed out I was. I am actually dreading going back, and getting sucked into it again. I hope this time I'll be able to take a stand and say 'this is ridiculous'. We shall see...

I am awaiting your next installment with baited breath!

Heidi

Laura McIntyre said...

Good read, i wish i could get involved in PLayground mafia we are so un child friendly around here

Rony said...

I failed the "mommy mafia" from the get go. For one thing I showed up with my own bottle of wine for a play date. Little did I know they really meant children's play date...... Embarrassing! As for activities... who needs that kind of stress.

Mat Nayie said...

huhuhu
Hi..wow that amazing..thanks for the info..rare to find it..really like it :)
Cheers,
automotive car warranty

Anonymous said...

huhuhu
Hi..wow that amazing..thanks for the info..rare to find it..really like it :)
Cheers,
automotive car warranty

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

Yep, there are playground mafia everywhere! Having 3 kids with quite an age gap, I survived by finding a Sarah too. And, funny how this goes, I've just struck up a friendship with a new mom who considers me to be her Sarah.

Katie said...

Oh yeah, playground mafia at our park, too.

When is the next installment?

dawn224 said...

hee hee... at least your kid would have been nursing the newborn and not feeding it mt dew out of a bottle....

pootandcubby said...

I need a Sarah over in my neck of the woods. Can't wait for the continuation...

-andi

Sarah Tucker Author said...

Hi there, I came upon your site by accident. I think you will find this link of interest - and hopefully my novel THE PLAYGROUND MAFIA also of interest. I have just devised an app available on itunes and appstore you can download onto iphones and ipads called MUMMY MAFIA. I'm on TV in the UK in a few weeks time with the result - finding out if we are a nation of yummy, chummy or crummy mummies. I have recieved over 150,000 entries from the UK and over 10,000 from the US but am looking for more. The link is http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/mummy-mafia
it is fun and will help all those mums in the playground who want to get rid of playground politics. www.sarahtucker.info

Anonymous said...

I really liked your article. cardiovascular

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting to read about this in your article. blood pressure Read a useful article about tramadol tramadol