By Sanober Bukhari, Contributor
This post was originally published at DrivingMsDesi..com
Ever realized that the high school ‘clique’ issues started way before high school? As far back as, well preschool! And I’m not talking about the children either. It all starts with the moms. Perhaps it is like the chicken and egg theory. Is it possible that high school ‘mean girls’ grow up to become ‘mean girl mommies’? Or do ‘mean girl mommies’ influence daughters who become high school ‘mean girls’? I will let you be the judge of that. Suffice to say no matter where you run or hide, even with several years of the institution of structured education behind you this fascistic ‘school’ of thought will somehow hunt you down.
In my case deceptively disguised as the Drop Off/Pick Up mommy crew. Seemingly innocent enough, these mommies arrive together to hand their young babes off to the teacher promptly at 9:00 am and are back exactly at the same time just past noon to collect their children. The funny thing is neither of these moms actually car pool, they just appear from around the corner, strollers in tow, together. The mornings are usually a rush for everyone, so the drop off is quick and interaction minimum. Probably due to the fact that half the mommies most likely forgot to ‘put on their face’ (please refer to post: Sorry I Forgot My Face, which incidentally is completely counterintuitive with this post). Top that off with lack of caffeine, a tuckkar (encounter) with these lionesses in the early hours of the morning is best avoided. The afternoon pick up however, is another story.
After picking up my daughter as I exited the school door, I started to observe that there were three to four mommies who would hang around just outside the school, having already got their toddlers into their strollers. I would usually give them a smile and nod of acknowledgment as I managed my way passed them to get to the street and catch the next bus. Soon enough I was arriving at the school well before pick up time.
Early enough to observe that same group of mommies congregate. It was then I realized (after some strategic eavesdropping) that each had a child in my daughter’s section. It was really awkward standing there next to them, alone in the crowd, because apart from the civil smile, no one reached out to introduce themselves to me. I was clearly a new face; didn’t that obligate at least one of them to reach out?
Suddenly flashbacks of being the new girl in school started filling my head and a familiar queasy sensation returned. I had moved around a lot in my life so had the ‘privilege’ of experiencing this title one too many times. But come on, I wasn’t age 4 or 7 or 12 or 17 or 23 any longer. I was a 31 year old adult (hmm admitting the age thing is going to come back and haunt me one day isn’t it) and I refused to be defined by the ‘new girl’ status yet again. I decided next time I saw these mommies I would make the first move.
As luck would have it, the next morning’s bus ride to the school allowed an opportunity to present itself. I ended up sitting across from one of those mommies and her son who excitedly pointed to my daughter and called out her name. My daughter waved back. Clearly no new girl issues for her. After this exchange of pleasantries between our children, it was only polite of us mothers to do the same. But instead of leaving it at that I made the effort to engage in conversation. And it turned out this mother had a very friendly disposition and it was easy to talk to her. I thought to myself, score! She would most definitely introduce me to the other mothers and save me from future wall flower status.
That afternoon I was looking forward to bumping into the ‘pick up’ crew. As I left the school with daughter in hand I saw the friendly mom from earlier talking to two others from the same crew. The woman dominating the conversation was visibly of South Asian descent and the rest were some type of ‘gora’. Immediately you feel a connection to your fellow desi, so I thought for sure this was going to be a smooth introduction.
Excitedly (I kept my cool, don’t worry), I said hello to the mom I met earlier, asked how she was etc and automatically turned to the other moms expecting that introduction, any moment now..still waiting.. ok now this was getting awkward. South Asian mom barely broke from her conversation to briefly glance at me and continued talking to the other mom, who didn’t make any eye contact. Supposedly ‘friendly’ mom from earlier gave me a hesitant smile and turned back to listen to the desi mom. I used my daughter as an excuse to distract from that moment of potential embarrassment and moved away from the crowd. Wow. I felt like I was in the movie Mean Girls. What just happened here? Did I smell? Have something embarrassing on my clothes? I felt a little rejected and disappointed. I couldn’t figure this out.
My mind then started to stereo type. “Friendly” mom was the weak mean girl, nice when on her own but in a crowd got dominated by the ring leader. This queen bee, if I may was of course Desi mom, who had probably earned her place by charming the ‘goras’ with her ‘exotic’ background and travels. There wasn’t room for two desi moms in that crowd. Did she possibly feel threatened by me? No, that couldn’t be true. I blamed my over active imagination and shook my head to rid it of these thoughts. I was determined to break in to this Mom Crowd, and by golly I was going to make sure it happened. (Channelling Tina Fay and Amy Poehler…)
Stay tuned, as I update you on my mission to get in with the Mom Crowd. Have you ‘new to the school run’ mommies ever experienced something like this before? Do you still have left over stigma of high school cliquish behaviour? How have you overcome it and more importantly how do you teach your children to be inclusive with other ‘new’ kids?
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