Friday, September 25, 2009

Met A Buncha New Moms

A mother of a little boy in Hank's preschool class called me out of the blue one afternoon this week, and said that she was putting together a last-minute birthday part for her son, to be held the very next day at one of those bounce house places. And even though she was having the party at 10 am, I thought this was a swell idea.

What piqued my interest about this woman is that she showed a real inclination to talk my ear off, right there in the first conversation we'd ever had. She was more than outgoing, she was actually bubbling. Her true reason, she said, for wanting to have this party was to meet the other kids' moms. She said that the after school pick-up scene, where everyone mills around waiting for the door into the classrooms to be opened, makes her feel like she's in high school with nobody to talk to. I like it when people are really deliberate about their social needs, you know? So I pulled a little something out of the gift stash, and to the party we went.

At ten o'clock on a weekday, the bounce place was blessedly deserted. We were the only people in the place, which meant we could let the kids run loose without our trailing them every minute. We sat in the middle of the room and had a good time chatting. I had met a few of these women at open house, but we didn't really remember each other's names. Bubbly Mom was talking a mile a minute to everyone, and she repeated her bit about how school pick-up makes her feel all high school awkward. Everyone laughed, as though in recognition, and I did too, even though I realized in that moment that I don't really feel that way at all. When I approach a group of people I don't know, especially other moms, I feel just fine. Age has its privileges, I guess. I wondered if she really meant what she was saying? Or if this is just something women say. I have heard it before. I wonder if it's how we bond? The way that teenage girls initiate social bonds by complaining. Anyhoo.

I asked everyone if they were bothered by the fact that, in preschool, our kids have specific spots on the carpet that they are supposed to sit on at certain times of the day, like circle time, or if I am some kind of crunchy California anarchist on this subject. Bubbly Mom said, "Yeah, it's just part of the culture here, the way we're all supposed to have our toes done and play tennis." It's funny 'cause it's true.

So another notable moment was when one woman arrived and spoke to another mom, who was there with her three year-old and two younger toddlers. The newcomer said, "So you have twins?" (Which made me wince, remembering when I'd last asked that question.) But she said yes, and pointed out her two one year-olds. The other mom said, "But you're so skinny!" I thought that was weird, but the mom of twins said, "I never get to sit down," which was fine, but it just reminded me of Ms. Manner's dictum to Never Make a Specific Comment on Another Person's Appearance, Even To Say Something Positive. Because it makes people uncomfortable, and you never know what their private circumstances are. You can say, "You look terrific." And that is all. I am getting all prescriptive up in here today! It could be the rain.

Then Bubbly Mom was asking me to recommend books for her very-precocious eleven year-old, who she says has read the Bible cover-to-cover three times. (I reported that to Matt, and he said, "No she hasn't, not really." Hmm.) So I suggested those Philip Pullman books, The Golden Compass et al. Bubbly Mom said that her daughter had read the entire Twilight series in a week. A silent "NOOOOOOOOooooooo!" formed in my throat. I said, "She read all four?" And she said yes. Holy, wholly inappropriate, Batman!

If you would like to read a hilarious and spoiler-filled explication of what was so disturbing about that, read this review. It articulates why I think those books are bad for young girls way better than I've managed to do in the past.

Then again, nobody exercised much control over my reading when I was a kid. So I read a lot of Stephen King, which was scary and had dirty parts, but as an adult I think I can say that it was 100 times better than the Twilight stuff.

I didn't mean for this to become a Twilight post. It's probably the rain.

Bubbly Mom has already called me again to invite Hank and me to go with a few other people to see the Wiggles live. Should be fun even though Greg is no longer with the band.

I hope y'all are having a nice weekend. Last night we made hamburgers and had our buds over for some Beatles Rock Band. In Kelly, I've found a friend who likes to sing as loud as I do. We were deafening. Deafeningly awesome.


Kelly said...

Darn right we were awesome!! And we totally kicked butt, no matter what those boys say!

Keely said...

I had the same reaction when my friend told me her 11-year old was reading the Twilight series, but she (the friend) told me that she saw it as an opportunity to teach a little critical thinking. Which, I guess, is more productive than banning it outright. But still.

I think that IS just something we all say. "Boy I feel awkward!", even if you don't. It's like admitting some kind of flaw to make yourself more endearing.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Becky, that review of Twilight was so funny I laughed out loud over and over (rare for me when the medium is print). Soooo funny.

Um, Bubbly Mom sounds like Bad Mom. She will manage to weave all of her precocious kid's accomplishments into every single convo you have with her. Run! Run!

Amy said...

Bubbly Mom sounds very sweet. And the Wiggles ROCK!! You will have fun with that. I think I enjoyed it more than the kids last time. It's just so clear that they really care about children, and I found that really touching. Anyway.

I agree with Keely about the endearing yourself thing. I find myself doing that sometimes with others, and it really does seem to open the conversation. you live by your prescriptive, ma'am? Cause I distinctly remember a certain sister commenting on another sister's boob size quite recently. There might also have been a comparison of posteriors. But perhaps I'm thinking of someone else.

Amy said...

Just saw Lawyer Mom's comment--maybe she has a point. But still, kudos to Bubbly Mom for making the effort to meet everyone.

Bren said...

You recommended Philip Pullman to a kid who has read the bible 3 times? I find that funny.

I'm so glad you're adding new characters to your blog. Welcome, bubbly mom! Here's hoping she's just weird enough to provide some good blog fodder, but pleasant enough to hang out with in the preschool hallway.

Camp Papa said...

"But Jael, Heber's wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died." (Judges 4:21 NIV The Holy Bible)

If she's read that three times, maybe she's got a better idea of how to deal with vampires than do the girls in the Twilight series.

Hootie said...

No more calls, we have a winner.

Becky said...

Ha! Dad's citation proves my ongoing feeling that Buffy is far more biblical than Bella.

And Amy! Those are special sister moments!

Rick Dakan said...

Here I was getting ready to make do my duty as a militant atheist and make some snarky comment about the contents of The Bible and then your dad beat me to it, which is way, way ironic and stuff.

Becky said...

He beats me to it every time, Rick.

Dave said...

I think I heard that Ms. Manners rule from you some time back, and I have pretty much lived by it. I think it's a good rule, especially in the workplace.

I'm off to read that Twilight review now. While I was not paying attention, these books became a cultural phenomenon. I need to hear what the deal is.

gretchen said...

GREG IS NO LONGER A WIGGLE?! Good Lord, when did that happen?

Re: Twilight. I have not read them. And I'm sure they're terrible crap. But I must admit that my best friend Kaysie and I voraciously read every one of the "Angelique" books, a '70's series of heaving bosom historical novels with names like "Angelique in Love" and "Angelique and the King" (Angelique got around, if you know what I mean). And we went on to read and recognize actual quality literature.

Michele Renee said...

I read all 4 Twilight books and that review is....FANTASTIC, and like you said, says it better than anywhere else.
I am not believing that Bouncy Mom would ever feel like she had no one to talk to. Looking forward to hearing more of the new moms.
And you have much strength to keep that loud "Nooooo" under wraps.

Jenni said...

the twilight series does seem a bit inappropriate for an 11 y.o. but then, so doses the bible in my opinion; it's pretty grapic. not twilight grapic, but grapic none the less.

Bonnie said...

Loved the Twilight review! I read book one this year to see what all the fuss was about. I found it juvenile, disappointing, and a bit disturbing. Then I watched half the DVD and was even less impressed. [BTW, I read Harry Potter back when for the same reason (to see what the fuss was about) and LOVED it, all the sequels, and all the movies.

Bex said...

i learn so many wonderful tidbits about etiquette from your posts. i would not have otherwise known not to give a specific compliment about someone's appearance. i do it ALL the time. oops. i almost literally walk around trying to be affirming telling people, "your hair is so pretty." or "you have great teeth!" or "you have great style, i love this top." no more. now i will just give a knowing meryl streep mini-smile at all the pretty people.

The Stiletto Mom said...

Yeah so the last time I went on and on (and on and on and on) about someone's weight loss, and finally asked her what her secret was she said, "A very expensive diet, DIVORCE". Ugh.

And can we talk about letting young girls read the entire Twilight series? Oh honey no.

Sara said...

"Age has its priveleges, I guess."

That's what I'm thinkin'! Now when the kids first started preschool and school those many moons ago, I *did* feel a little shy and eager to please.
And there were some uncomfortable moments with the not so friendly parents.
But now? Forgetaboutit. Mean, friendly, crazy, sane-- You'll talk to me and like it! lol!

Ashley said...

Hey Everyone!

We’re all excited for the launch of New Moon in a few weeks. But instead of waiting patiently, we put together this funny little music video featuring Bella, Edward, and... Bon Jovi.

Share this video with all of your friends or tweet about it or tell me what you think.