Thursday, April 23, 2009

Uncomfortable insta-friends

I usually like making small talk with other moms at the park. A mom with 3 kids (ages 3, 2, and 1) got there before us and we started chatting about kids and mom stuff. A couple minutes later another woman and child showed up.

At first I wasn't quite sure if she was his mother or a young grandmother, but she referred to herself as "mommy", so that clarified it. She came over and opened with the fact that it was her son's 2nd birthday today. Normal enough.

Then her next line was "Don't you hate it when the man thinks it's your responsibility to do all the cooking and cleaning and child care? And that he expects you to do all the potty training by yourself?"


Neither the other woman nor I responded for an awkward moment and she went on, "And don't you hate it when the man says 'you wanted the kid, so you gotta take care of him'?" At this point I felt obligated to make some sort of response. "That would be pretty frustrating."

I then tried to carry on my original conversation with the mother of 3 with the the new woman interjecting her comments. Not a big deal. I don't mind if she joins the conversation.

As we hit another lull she then busted out with, "I see teenage kids here at the park smoking sometimes. You know, around 12 or 13 years old. Once my boy picked one of their cigarette butts and I told him it was yucky." I still wasn't quite sure how I was supposed to respond, so I just said, "Yeah, I used to come in the afternoons, but there were always a lot of teenagers from the Jr. High, so we just come in the morning now."

Not long after, the woman looks at Dean and asks what size of clothes he wears. I tell her mostly 18 mo. clothes. She said, "I have some 18 mo. and 2T clothes my son has grown out of. Would you like them?"

Awkward moment number 2. It was very nice of her to offer, but it was quite uncomfortable that she was asking me this for two reasons. I'd only known her for about 5 min. and she and her child were somewhat shabbily dressed. I just responded, "I think we're all set, but thanks!"

The kids went about playing a while longer and there were a few more bits of odd conversations with the lady. Dean kind of played catch with the birthday boy (though he doesn't really get the concept...he just picks up the ball and turns away from everyone and throws it or drops it behind his head). After their game of "catch" the mom says, "If you're not busy on Saturday, we'd love to have you come over for his birthday party."

Awkward moment number 3. Once again, a nice offer, but I didn't even know her name nor did she know mine! I felt bad saying I already had plans, but I really was not prepared to commit myself and Dean to go to a birthday party for a child I didn't know at a home I didn't know with parents I didn't know (who obviously have some marital issues). So I said, "Oh, sorry, we've got stuff going on." I felt so guilty saying this because it's not entirely true. Matt has to fix our fence, but I have no set plans. I just felt very uncomfortable and didn't want to go!

So, now I kind of feel bad, but I am unsure of how I should have responded in this situation.


Tom and Audrie said...

I would have probably done the same thing.

marzy dotes said...

Yeah, that is awkward. I am sure I would have done the same thing as well.

-Laura- said...

Totally akward, I probably would have said the same things you did!

FoxyJ said...

I would have responded the same way. A few years ago I was at a playground and a woman came up and started telling me all about her horrific experience with post-partum depression. It was a little awkward, but I did tell her that I had experienced a bit too. She said she likes to talk to a lot of people about it to raise awareness, which I think is a worthy cause, but it was still awkward.

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

It gets even weirder! I stopped at a Kroger on my way home from Allen, and the lady was an employee there! She's all "Hey, you were at the park today!" and walks me out to my car, tells me again about the birthday party, again I have to say I'm busy. As we were leaving she was saying how proud she was of her son's speech and then she asked if Dean had a speech problem! Weird.

Anonymous said...

That probably did seem awkward. I'm sure she was just looking for friends and to be able to connect with someone else and didn't know how to do it properly. I do feel bad for the lady, though. I bet she is looking for some type of support in her life (since she obviously doesn't have her hubby's support). She probably doesn't get out much. Maybe next time you see her at the store you should invite her to a park play day. Just b/c they don't dress well doesn't mean they don't understand that the economy is rough and that others need help even if they don't look like they need help. I'm sure people think the same things of me and my kids when we are out in public-we are quite a sad sight some days. I guess I am more open to people who are different b/c of our homeschooling experiences. We meet a wide range of people/personalities each activity that we go to. They don't seem as weird to me anymore, they are just different and we enjoy meeting people who are different- it makes for a great learning experience. Good luck!

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

Heather, the clothing was one of the least concerns, believe me! I looked pretty shabby myself since I was in my exercise clothes and my hair was crazy frizzy since I did it curly yesterday and hadn't showered yet today!

Good things to remember though.

Erin said...

I think you were entirely justified in your actions. We live in a crazy world. We can never be too careful about the situations we take our children into. If the lady made you uncomfortable why would you want to take your son to her house?

Him, Her & The Wee One said...

I think you handled it all really well. Don't you wonder about some people? Although sometimes I think I take my social network for granted. Between family, friends, work and church, it's easy to find someone to hang out with. I have to remember that other people don't have those options.

I would've done the same thing.

Just read your comment about seeing her at Kroger. That's totaly funny.

Anonymous said...

By the clothes, I just meant when she offered to give you clothes, not that she was weird b/c she didn't dress nice.

I take any hand-me-downs I can get, even if they are worn out of shape. With my 1st kid, I would easily refuse them or throw them away, but now that we're coming up on 4, I'm taking ANY freebies I can get. It's funny how things change.

She probably was looking to help others out-maybe another way to 'connect' to other people.

But, yes, in this world you need to be cautious of everyone that you meet. And I would not have accepted the b-day invitation either.

randa_joy said...

Hilarious. Thanks for sharing this little interaction plus the follow-up meeting. What is true in Texas is true in AZ: Park moms have no filter. Obviously the case of "the birthday mom" was a little extreme. Addie got an invite from some random guy at my husband's work last week that he does not know AT ALL. I guess he just heard we had a 2 yr old? I am not good at saying no if I really don't have something else to do, and someone just throws it out like that, so good job being on your feet. Luckily with the co-worker there was an actual invite and time to think of an excuse.

AmyJane said...

Dude. This woman is obviously lacking in social skills. I would have done the same thing. We have soem social struggles happening with our downstairs neighbors. She's really friendly and wants to be mommy firends, but....her kids are wild and strange, her husband chainsmokes, and frankly I'm just a little uncomfortable around her. I don't want to be snobby or standoffish, or holier than though but...I don't want her kids tearing my house apart, I won't let my kids go into their house and suck in 2nd and 3rd hand smoke, and... I'm sure you get the picture. It can be a tough thing. The thing is, I really do feel fro SAHM's who don't have the social network the church offers. But, at teh same time, I'm prety keen ob paying attention to things that wierd me out and keeping me and my kids safe.

Kristeee said...

Man, that does sound awkward. Especially since you ran into her again. I say, make some plans (and taking a nap totally counts!), so it's not really lying. Plus, Dean is always busy, right?