Saturday, June 2, 2007

"Sheila"

We will call her "Sheila."

I was out and about at Target the other day, wasting time before an afternoon play date at the park. I happened to see, in passing, a woman who looked familiar. I thought it was Sheila. It was Sheila. I initially noticed her in the parking lot as I was walking into the store and she was driving around in her huge white gas-guzzling SUV. I thought she was leaving. She was just finding a parking spot.

Sheila is thin. Very thin. She is blond. Her eyes are sort of sunken in, and she honestly looks like she hasn't had sleep in days. But maybe she just hasn't eaten in days. I first met her when I joined my very first playgroup. She has two children -- one boy, one girl. My first impression of her was her weight: very thin, very blond; very I've-been-on-heroine-for-a-month-straight. She seemed like a bitch. An "I'm better than you are" sort of Mom.

I met her during my first play date which was held at a local mall. When I arrived at the mall that day, I was graciously greeted by Jessica, and dubiously snubbed by Sheila...or so I thought. Jessica was great. She has a son that is about my son's age. We had a lot in common...we both disliked Sheila. Keep in mind, this is my first time to actually meet Sheila. Over time -- about a whole month -- Jessica told me that she seemed to think she had the wrong impression of Sheila. She had come to think she was quite wrong, indeed; Sheila was friendly. I wouldn't know. I never saw her again. I was kicked out of my new found play group about a month after joining. There were two play dates I couldn't attend for two very legitimate reasons, and so I got an email saying I was being removed from the member list due to inactivity. Give me a break! Really, my absence had spanned a total of a week and a half. So my five month old and I retreated to our isolation.

Jessica quit emailing me. I never saw Sheila again. Until about a month or two ago...I saw her at a local jump house play place. She was there, her two hyper active children in-tow. I saw her; avoided her. I hoped she wouldn't remember me. It had, after all, been a good 6 months since I was kicked out of the other playgroup. Since then, I'd joined a new one, and that's what brought me to the bounce houses. I saw Sheila, and in horror, frantically looked for the other uber-mommies that had decided I was not devoted enough to be part of their little play date clique. I failed at the avoiding, and before I could duck away, she said hi to me. She even called me by name. I faked a smile and said hello. Then I asked where the other moms were. She was very quick to inform me that she and Jessica had left the other uber-mom clique and started their own. That was what brought them there. We had a nice little chat actually. Jessica was right. We were wrong about Sheila. Sheila is quite nice, indeed.

Our meeting that day was short. I told her to tell Jessica hi for me.

Now fast forward to a few days ago at Target. I saw her again. In passing, I noticed her in the children's clothing department and said "HELLO" with my big Mommy grin. We struck up QUITE the conversation while her children bounced around my cart entertaining my 13 month old.

Sheila looked the same. She still looked as though she hadn't had sleep or food in quite a while. But really, maybe she was just in need of some good concealer. I really should stop judging. After all, maybe people think the same about me. I'm not that thin though...unfortunately. Anyway, Sheila informed me of some very scary news about the other playgroup. She asked if I remembered the organizer. I did -- after all, she was the one who ended my beloved membership with the play date clique. Sheila then went on to inform me that apparently the husband of this woman was a registered sex offender. The other group had frequently held play dates at this woman's home. Sheila said this man was all over the news. What worse? The organizer's best friend (also a member of the group), knew about this man's status...and told no one. Sheila says this woman claims it was a "set up." Don't they all claim that?

Sheila and I really had quite the little gossip session. I'm so glad God allowed me to be removed from that group. Can you imagine if I'd unknowingly gone to that house? What if I'd put my son in harm's way? My mind is still swirling with the awful possibilities.

Sheila really is quite nice, and I've learned something: Mommy groups are a lot like high school. They're full of cliques and stereotypes. I am now an organizer of yet another playgroup. I invited Sheila's group to join in on a Father's Day party we are holding. Sheila invited me to join her group.

I feel very cool.

1 comments:

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

Excellent! I do hate those playgroups that kick you out for inactivity. Really stupid. But IMO -- after the whole ordeal -- you were better off. And even if all that cr*p had not have happened, you would still be better off!

About 9 months ago a pediatrician in our neighborhood was arrested for sexual misconduct or something -- the babysitter said he "touched her inappropriately." Still waiting on his trial -- but I'm glad we never saw him!