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Kitchen Sink

It’s Not Easy Being Square

January 5th, 2009

Don’t forget the Children’s Place Gift Card Giveaway!

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I’m having a hard time making friends at my daughter’s preschool. Because I tend to be the sort of person who hangs back a bit a first meet, I just can’t integrate into the group. It doesn’t help that I get nervous around “new” people, say silly, nonsensical things, interject inappropriate comments at inopportune times, and experience nervous tics.

 

Toots has been to three preschools now (for valid and non-schitzo-parental reasons; also she’s been at preschools for almost three years so it works out to one a year), and at each one, I can’t seem to convince the moms that I’m worth knowing. I have non-preschool friends, quite a few friends actually, but I’m a slow burn, it takes me awhile to feel comfortable enough to be myself, to not talk in weird bursts of strange verbosity, and to stop drawing my nose and mouth up and down in a rapid-fire, alarming seizure-like motion, like the one I did throughout my wedding video because the thought of all those people watching me freaked my head.

 

If I had to guess, and if you didn’t know me, I’d say I come across like a mix between a morose Andy Dick and dorkier Napoleon Dynamite.

 

So yesterday, the family and I took ourselves to a birthday party for a prechoolmate of Toots’. And as is usually the case, I hung around the fringes of conversations in motion and threw an occasional smile into the mix, hoping someone would ignore my mealy mouth thing, and invite me in. When that failed, The Rock and I hyper managed the kids and followed them around because they’re our only friends and at least it looked like we were talking to somebody.

 

And what is it? How do all these people know each other already? I go to the same functions and parties and recitals and insufferable parent volunteer deals. Is it me? Am I *gasp*, am I lame? Also, how far do chronic halitosis clouds travel?

My friend wants to know.

 

Maybe I’m an acquired taste. I do catch my longtime friends sometimes imperceptibly inching away from me here and there because I’ve said some ridiculous thing that is either (a) offensive (b) too loud or (c) head-scratching. For example, at a nice holiday dinner last week, I asked my friend-employer if the beautiful wrap she wore was a Snuggie. As previously mentioned, we were at a nice holiday dinner at a beautiful and delicious restaurant, so there would be no reason for her to wear a blanket with arms. Some kind of weird vocab/syntax signal wire crossed in my mind, and I thought that because her wrap looked warm, it might approach the general coziness of a Snuggie, but not that it actually WAS a Snuggie, but too late, I said the thing out loud and so no kidding I have zero friends at preschool. Even The Rock, who says far more inappropriate things than I, and at much more regular intervals (note: this is what is known as “making oneself feel better”) looked at me askance, later telling me that I was “earnest,” but in that patronizing, you loser, kind of way, and when I asked him to elaborate and be more specific with his constructive criticism, he lost interest and I dissolved into a pillar of tears.

Oops! Did I say that part out loud? There I accidentally and non-passive-aggressively go again. (For the record, The Rock felt really bad. Still I silent treatmented him for the better part of a weekend. Hell hath no fury like my sealed mouth)

 

In addition, a few nights ago at a friend’s house, I remarked some weirdo thing that kind of doesn’t even make sense to me now, but the gist was that I said her peers at an upscale preschool her son attends probably all have that Predator screen behind their eyes so that when they look at someone, the screen dissects what they are wearing and flashes text alerts showing where they bought each thing. Because they’re superficial. And don’t like DSW.

 

 

Basically I said that my friend’s friends look like this and have the depth of fruit roll-ups.

 

 

Imagine the screen shown above, but with words like “Bought at Nordstrom on sale,” “Is Louis Vuitton,” “TJ Maxx clearance rack,” corresponding to the clothes a person is wearing.

 

I know. She didn’t get it either.

 

So that’s pretty much it. Also imagine if someone were to say off-putting and befuddling statements like that described above, but you didn’t know them, and interspersed between each random line was a tic and bursts of barking laughter at unfunny stuff.

 

Or maybe yesterday, it was my bangs. I’d tried to coax them into some semblance of normality, but hair strands kept falling into unauthorized forehead quadrants, so I sprayed and pomaded them to within an inch of their puny lives, resulting in a greasy bang explosion of monumental proportions (Aaryn! Wherefore art is Amber?). I looked like that mom who rolls out of bed at the last minute, throws hobo clothes on her kids, and spritzes mouthwash to kill the stale scent of last night’s wine binge.

 

It’s kinda making sense now, right?

 

Still! I want some preschool friends! Aren’t I supposed to be a good role model for Toots? I don’t want her to someday attend parties hanging out in the corner, nibbling pineapple slices and imagining Predator screens behind everyone’s eyes. The world can’t handle two of us and I don’t want to be responsible for tipping it off its axis in a cyclone of too-much Going Geico™.

 

Do you have preschool friends? How’d you do it? Is there hope for me and my greasy bangs? And why are some ladies so averse to welcoming new weird people into the group?

 

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On January 5th, 2009, Kizz said:

I found myself at a New Year’s Eve party talking about death and dying unable to stop until the nice woman said, “Kind of morbid for a party, eh?”. I might not be your best source for advice.

On January 5th, 2009, Csquaredplus3 said:

I am your Square Peg soul mate. I swear. I completely get this post, could have written it, has happened many times – amazing. I feel so… not alone now. Chris and I are THE couple that micromanages our kids so it looks like we’re not standing around pathetically not included. All the cool dorks live in San Diego. Crap!

On January 5th, 2009, g said:

Oh, I totally feel for you!! I felt the same when Son was in preschool. But we ended up making a few friends….somehow….

Nowadays due to my Husband’s work, we have to go to a lot of social things – receptions & etc., and I’ve learned a few riffs on small talk, so I feel more successful.

I think for preschool, what I ended up doing was make friends with the kids who my son was friends with, volunteered for a lot of the lousy jobs no one else enjoyed, and host playdates – parents love it when you take their kid off their hands for an hour or 2 – and then they can meet you on your own ground (as long as you think that’s a GOOD idea!).

Also, make friends with the teachers. I think that helps, too.

On January 5th, 2009, * TONYA * said:

Oh. My. Goodness. I could have written this post. If I’m not saying something completely ridiculous, I’m following my kids around like a lunatic so it appears I have ‘friends’.

On January 5th, 2009, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

First, I have never gotten this vibe from you, but maybe I just have some weird way of making people feel comfortable (but probably not–you’re probably not as inept (more ept?) than you think).

Since I have a volunteering problem, I always did that and that’s a great way to meet people. However, I never wanted to be friends with everyone, just the people I actually liked and felt had similar values. Try to find another mom who looks a little uncomfortable and chat with her.

On January 5th, 2009, Danielle said:

If Toots went to our preschool. I would be your friend or maybe you would run from me because I do the same things as you. Say weirdo stuff (and for the record I GOT the predator thing before you explained it…) and inopportune times. I only have friends because we were invited to birthday parties and I like you stayed on the fringe until I decided that damnit I’m entering that conversation and I basically thrust myself into it and then randomly walked up to other guests (who actually may have been avoiding me) while the kids were playing and just started talking. It seemed to work. I have one or two Preschool friends now. There have been some parents I wouldn’t want anything to do with and some that look fun to be around (you know they have that look like they like to drink beer and wine and let their kids run wild).

On January 5th, 2009, Eden said:

I chalk it up to Girl Culture. And the women who still act like that aren’t worth trying to become friends with. Some of the moms at Zoe’s Girl Scouts meetings are friendly, a little more laid back than the plain ol’ school moms. But some still look down their noses at me. I ain’t fancy. No fancy shoes, no fancy bag, no manicure… you’re lucky if my hair’s brushed and I don’t smell like pink grapefruit.

The trick, I think, is just to seek out the other inappropriate moms (raise hand).

We’re so much alike, it’s scary. Your solution should be to move here.

On January 5th, 2009, feathermaye said:

Sadly, I never did get it. I can’t think of a single situation in which I talked to another parent outside of a moment our kids were already involved in, like football games and emergency room visits.

Interestingly, though, the kids always loved us. We were the house that always had the full fridge and every video game known to man. Plus, a mom who cussed a lot.

Having to choose between the parents and the kids, I’d choose the kids every time.

On January 5th, 2009, stoneskin said:

How do all these people know each other already? They don’t, it’s all a conspiracy, a fake, a pretence, just join in!

On January 5th, 2009, Blognut said:

Jump right in there! I totally like you and I don’t even know you.

I did go through a very similar experience with The Boy’s soccer team. The other kids had been playing for this team for years and my son joined this particular team just recently. I felt like the other moms were never going to talk to me so I brought really cute treats to the next game and made sure I had enough for the parents too. I won ‘em with food.

On January 5th, 2009, wa said:

I don’t usually reference myself like this, but you need to read something I wrote a little while ago…you’re not alone:

http://www.freshyarn.com/39/essays/aarons_loser.htm

On January 5th, 2009, foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) said:

I feel like very chance I get to maybe make a ‘school friend’ is blown the moment I open my mouth because all the words I want to say, all the words that have been filling my head while the other person has been talking and I’ve been trying to form my sane sounding self in my mind to respond to them, come spilling out in one loud blob over vowels and a few hard k’s and I KNOW as it’s coming out of my mouth that it’s awful, yet I can’t stop it, so then I try to get the pity face on before they do. Oh, it’s awful. I’m such a fringe-dweller!

I, too, wonder how all these women already know each other! Where am I when they’re all apparently getting together for coffee or movies or drinks? Why do I feel like Carrie at the prom, just before the chord is cut on the bucket dangling overhead? When I do find someone who will admit to knowing me at the next function, I have a tendency to glom onto them like a tumor. Seriously, I’m a mess!

On January 5th, 2009, Vered - MomGrind said:

I have two pieces of advice – take them or leave them:

1. Stop being do hard on yourself.

2. Never wait for others to invite you in. Simply join.

Of course, the second can only happen if you do the first and assume that people will like you. I’m sure you are far more likable than you think you are.

On January 5th, 2009, Shana said:

>>I’d say I come across like a mix between a morose Andy Dick and dorkier Napoleon Dynamite.

I cannot think of anyone I’d rather meet than what you described. Obviously, all of the parents at the preschool have something wrong with them and maybe you should consider trying just one more school : )

Thanks for following and setting my OCD world of even numbers back on its axis.

On January 5th, 2009, Bridget Smith said:

I know how you feel. Since I moved here to the San Diego area I have been on a quest to make mommy friends, but usually just end up feeling and acting like a dork.

Some solutions that have sort of worked have been:

1)Befriend the teacher who was a former bannana slug (UC Santa Cruz grad) like me.

2)Hang out at the park next to the school and kind of ambush any preschool mom I can find.

Funny about the micromanaging the kids to avoid talking to grownups. I do that all the time in social situations.

Asking questions always seems to work better than trying to start out with my own original small talk thoughts.

On January 5th, 2009, Green Girl said:

I don’t have any friends either. I’ve tried, but they either 1) don’t get me or 2) don’t need another friend because they’ve lived here forever and the clique is closed. I am okay with this, however, because i made a bunch of friends when I worked, in my neighborhood, through a book club and then online. I think perhaps it’s the artist thing, too…regular people struggle with our type. I’d love to meet you in person as I think I’d be delighted by you.

On January 5th, 2009, Twenty Four At Heart said:

Oooh – I can so relate to this post! Yeah .. well, I’m an introvert to start with. People assume SNOB probably, but reality is SHY. Especially in group situations. And I’m not all girly so I find it hard to relate to the girly girls …. Maybe I’m complicated? Loved this post! It’s going to be so fun getting to know you San Diego Mom! I think we’re going to become friends! :)

On January 5th, 2009, matteroffactmommy said:

oh.my.god.
all i can say is that i TOTALLY would have gotten the predator reference and i TOTALLY would have welcomed you into my (small) den of close friends.
i love you, deb. and we are SO much more alike than i think you or i have ever realized in the past.
(heh, hope that doesn’t scare you or piss you off.)

On January 5th, 2009, Diane said:

I had a tough time in pre-school, too. Hell, I still have a hard time. On a recent field trip, all the (much younger) mothers were talking about how their parents would have picked good husbands for them. I said something like, “Oh good God, I wouldn’t have wanted my parents to choose my husband. They would have picked a Republican!” Now, all my friends would have laughed at that. As it was, though, a palpable silence settled over the bus and one of the mothers said, “Ummm… we’re all Republicans.” Shit.

I wish I was a preschool mom at your preschool. We would get along great. And I would have laughed at the Predator reference, just so you know.

On January 5th, 2009, debbie said:

Okay…so this is a post I can definitely relate to! Here…as I am the only foreign mommy at my son’s daycare, I’m ALWAYS on the fringes of what is going on. So many times, thanks to my lack of understanding of this culture, the language and all that goes with that…I’m seen as a bit of a “lone ranger” at most functions. There are a few parents I can manage to converse with, but…not many. After almost 11 years of this, I am oh so thankful that this is almost over…but then…we have elementary school to deal with…and so it continues.
I just tell myself…”It’s not me personally, but..me as someone they don’t understand and possibly really want to get to know but are too shy/intimidated/whatever to come over and talk.” I smile…nod my head…bow when necessary…do what I can to contribute and think about the cold beer in the fridge waiting for me when this torture is over.
Hang in there kid…it’s not you…it’s them.

On January 5th, 2009, Pearl Wisdom said:

I was just having this conversation with my Sister last week! We decided that the exclusionary moms are just jealous of us and therefore too intimidated to speak to us.

Now when some uptight mom tries to look down her nose at me at “coffee morning” I just make a mental note of how she is really secretly wishing she had my skill of making dried cheerios a fetching fashion accessory.

On January 6th, 2009, mary said:

holy crap- I can’t believe there’s someone else out there like me!
My husband very sheepishly tells his friends that most people have a filter between their brain and their mouth, but I was born without one- like I have a sad disability or something.
Recently, former friends of ours have repeatedly made me so freakin’ mad that I said if they drive down our street again, I would wish for a giant hammer to come out of the sky and smash their car into a heap- then I would calmly run by like, Oh? Do I know you? and keep on going…and I said it with other friends…now those friends always tell people to watch out for the big hammer if I look like I’ve been offended :)
p.s. preschool moms are always assholes- don;t let them get you down. I bet you just have more going on in your life and they can see that. Also, carry a big hammer if possible :)

On January 6th, 2009, Vered - MomGrind said:

One more thing. You are obviously an introvert. I think you should read this:

http://hunternuttall.com/blog/2008/07/the-introverts-strike-back/

On January 6th, 2009, ilinap said:

I would totally be your friend. I’m in the same boat. I think it’s because I don’t own mom jeans and Keds so I don’t fit in with the crowd. Or maybe it’s because I’m snarky.

On January 6th, 2009, Average Girl said:

Hello! I found you through MoFM.

As a PTO Vice President at my DD school, I can say, I would be the person to approach you at the end of the meeting and try to get to know you. A long time ago I was the shy/curious/blurtobescenities kinda girl. Only after I realized that I didn’t give a shit about what anyone thought about me that I started to relax in those situations.

Just remember, most of the parents at these functions or social gatherings are too wrapped up into their own appearence then they are about your “On clearance” jeans.

Just smile and wave ;)

On January 6th, 2009, Renée aka Mekhismom said:

I can’t find your email address so here is a link to the show – it was linked on my blog but I guess that wasn’t obvious.
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theclassycloset

On January 14th, 2009, KristiBug said:

I just had to say I completely relate! I was reading BlogCoach and saw your name (I’m up in OC) then saw your CommentLuv post and had to read it and… yep, totally same boat.

I have my close friends that I’ve known since elementary school yet I can’t seem to connect with others in my Mom’s groups. Preschool is next year… *shudders*

On April 23rd, 2009, San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » Taking a Chance said:

[…] people online. And because I tend to shun attention, I didn’t put myself out there. Too shy. Insecure. Nervous about my sensible shoes. But then, Cheri invited me to attend Kate’s house for the […]

On April 23rd, 2009, San Diego Momma » Blog Archive » Taking a Chance said:

[…] people online. And because I tend to shun attention, I didn’t put myself out there. Too shy. Insecure. Nervous about my sensible shoes. But then, Cheri invited me to attend Kate’s house for the […]

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