Back to class: Why parenting is like high school

By Published On: December 5th, 2012

It has been said that you never really leave high […]

It has been said that you never really leave high school, and we’ve unfortunately found that to be true. The same cliques and insecurities that plagued us in our teenage years are found all too often in playgroups and parks around the world. Just for fun, we’ve rounded up a few girls you might recognize from your youth, only now they’re coming at you with babies on their hips.
perfect girlThe perfect girl
You remember Miss Perfect from high school, right? Perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect life … not much has changed, except she has aged (gracefully), married and procreated. She’s still flawless: Her house is always clean, her husband is madly in love with her, and her kids never misbehave in public. She’s involved in a vast assortment of committees and clubs and is never late for a meeting. She’s maddening, really.
Of course, if you ever spend a little time getting to know a real-life Mrs. Perfect, you might be surprised by what you find. Once she drops the charming demeanor and steps out of supermom mode, you’ll probably discover that she has the same fears, anxieties and insecurities as the rest of us. Her true talent lies not in actually being perfect, but in portraying herself as such to the outside world.
Young woman relaxing after a healthy, invigorating workoutThe sporty girl
In high school, the sporty girl played softball and ran track. Now she spends her free time at the gym and jogs for fun. (Not to stay in shape, like the rest of us, but because she actually enjoys it.) She’s likely to show up at playgroup in gym clothes and a baseball cap, yet somehow still manage to look totally pulled together and gorgeous.
Unsurprisingly, the sporty girl-turned-mom is usually an excellent team player, and—wait for it—a good sport about all things parenting. She’s fun, easygoing, encouraging, supportive … in a nutshell, she’s a pretty good friend to have. And perhaps best of all, athletic moms tend to be very comfortable in their own skin, which sets a great example for those of us who have been overdoing the concealer since becoming parents. We could all stand to be reminded that natural beauty does exist, and our own might just shine through if we give it the chance.
dramaqueenThe drama queen
And by drama queen, we don’t mean a member of the drama club—we mean that Chicken Little person who is always convinced that the sky is falling, and it’s heading straight for her. Back in the day, a hangnail meant certain arm amputation; these days, she’s the mom who screams and runs when her son slips on the
playground, and heaven help us all if something truly worrisome goes down.
Overall, though, the drama queen isn’t such a bad friend to have. Sure, she’ll get on your nerves sometimes, but who doesn’t? When a drama mama is around, you don’t have to worry about anything—she’s more than happy to take care of that for you. Just sit back and relax. It’s a nice reprieve from the everyday stress of being a mom.
crusader_0The crusader
Crusader moms seem to have no question about what is best for their kids, and they couldn’t care less what the rest of the world thinks. (Remember that girl trying to save the whales in high school? She’s got a new mission.) While some of us might struggle with the pros and cons of things like childhood vaccinations, co-sleeping and breastfeeding, the crusader mom acts on instinct and never doubts that she’s making the right decision.
You’ve gotta love someone who fights for what they believe in, right? Right. But when that belief differs from yours, watch out, because there’s a good chance crusader mom is going to let you know exactly why she thinks you’re wrong. (Reasoning with the crusader typically doesn’t work, so if a stranger approaches you at the park to bash you for bottle-feeding, just grin and bear it. She’ll catch someone using a stroller in lieu of a baby carrier shortly, and her attention will be diverted.)
Of course, don’t assume someone is a crusader until she gives you reason. A breastfeeding, babywearing mom could just be a supporter of attachment parenting who is perfectly content to let the rest of the world do what they want with their kids. It’s only those who feel the need to vocalize their beliefs to those who clearly aren’t interested that disrupt the comfort of playgroup.
oneupper_0The one-upper
In high school, she did everything better than you … she did everything better than everyone, actually. Or at least that’s what she said, frequently and loudly, as she boasted of her accomplishments (whether real or imagined) every time something good happened to someone else.
The good news: She probably doesn’t talk about herself so much anymore. The bad news: It’s now her child that she brags about incessantly. If you tell her your baby walked at 9 months, hers was running at 8 months and 3 weeks. You mention you’re teaching your little one sign language? Her tot has been fluent in Spanish since birth. Since one-uppers don’t do anything but make you feel bad about yourself, avoid this mama like the plague. Your baby is perfect and so are you, and don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
onedownerThe one-downer
Where the one-upper wants you to believe that everything in her life is bigger and better, the one-downer would have you believe that everything in her life is far, far worse. If you got two hours of sleep last night, she got one; your baby’s ear infection has nothing on the double ear infection plus strep throat her tiny one suffered last week. A word of advice: Smile and escape at your earliest opportunity. This conversation isn’t going to get better any time soon.
bully_1The bully
Some people just never grow up, and that mean girl who pushed you around in the ninth grade might very well still be at it. Thankfully, with age comes confidence, so bully mama shouldn’t bother you too much. Ignore her remarks, kill her with kindness, and walk away. You’re way too busy being a mom to allow someone with ill intentions to bring you down.
flirt_1The flirt
No description required: We all know this gal. And yes, it’s just as obnoxious now as it was then. Many flirts are harmless and just looking for a little reassurance (maybe her man doesn’t sing her praises often enough?), but when it’s your guy she’s hitting on, it can be downright infuriating—especially when you’ve been wearing nothing fancier than spit-up-stained sweats for the past six weeks.
It takes many, many people to make up this great world of ours, and all we’re really doing here is having a little fun. (We don’t like stereotypes any more than the next girl.) Just as in high school, it can be hard to figure out where you’re going to fit in as a parent, but the adult world is a much friendlier one—you might find your best mom friends in some unlikely places. Give everyone a chance, reach out to the new folks, and embrace everyone for exactly who they are … including yourself. Yes, life is a lot like high school, but thankfully most of us have learned from our mistakes and grown up enough to handle things more maturely this time around.