Friday, November 16, 2007

Exclusivity kills.

I know, I haven't posted for the past two days. I'm a bad NaBloPoMo'er. Like so many things, it sounded like a good idea at the time, but turned out not to be so grand after all. Since starting this month, I feel like my writing is slipping. It's forced, not flowing. Instead of blogging when I have a point to make, I'd blog because I had to...and fish for things. Forced.

So anyway, good luck to all of you who are going to finish up the month with a post every day (or more for some people). But I'm choosing quality over quantity.

So I just got on to rant a little bit. About my play group. There's nothing wrong with anyone in particular (although I'm sure I could find something with someone), just the whole thing as a whole. When the group first started it was relatively small and everyone knew each other. Everyone got along for the most part. It was kind of like a little play group family. There was no drama, and we had play dates that everyone attended on a regular basis. We had play dates at most of the same places and rotated through our favorites. Tuesday was for the mall, we had pot lucks once a month, etc. Now our group has grown to be enormous. There are 59 members. Most of whom I've probably never said more than a few words to, let alone know their children's names. I guarantee that I've only actually seen about two-thirds of them in person. What happened to our group being so familiar? Now it's just big, corporate and sterile.

It's become something of a exclusive club, too. And whether some of the members would like to believe it or not, a little cliquish. Of course it's cliquish. It's going to be cliquish. There's no way you can have that many different women together and not have cliques. That would impossible. I just think -- as an organizer -- there should be more done to squash down the festering of the cliques. Don't get me wrong, I do not like everyone, nor do I want to be friends with every single mommy in the group.

The way our group is set up now -- as far as play date scheduling goes -- is that it is broken up into minuscule play dates that cater to every single members need. You've got Sue's Crafty day here, and oh since not everyone came come to that (only five people are allowed to attend), let's schedule a bounce house play date at the same time, and then on top of it let's throw in a baby play date for those with children younger than 18 months. All on the same day. All at the same time.

You get half of the members RSVP'ing yes half of the time. So then there's 25 people split between three different play dates. On. One. Day. Of course, only five can attend's Sue's Crafty play date, so her best friends are the ones who make sure and RSVP first. [Clique #1] That leaves little room for others who may want to get to know Sue, or just to do a craft. It also leaves little room for those with children under the age of 2 who would not be able to craft at all because of the age of their wee one. Okay, well then it would make sense to attend one of the other play dates, right? So you look hopefully toward Plan B...which is the bounce houses. Well that one is discounted automatically: 1) if your child is not old enough to bounce, 2) if your child is old enough, but still not hearty or feisty enough to withstand being bounced on by 20 four year olds, or 3) you're already over budget from the 8 other play dates attended this past month and you really don't want to spring the $6 to allow your kid to bounce around and get a black eye. Okay, so then Plan C would be logical, right? Well, sure...except for the fact that the baby play date is for just that -- babies. If your kid is under 18 months old, or just plain more advanced than the others attending, you're flat out screwed for the day. Plan's A, B, and C were derailed because your kid doesn't fit into any of the age groups...or your RSVP finger is too slow for the 5 person limit.

You've got yourself one boring Thursday. Brace for lots of cartoons and "please don't climb that!" screaming.

Multiply the scenario written above by at least two times per week and you've got yourself a sneak peek into the play group I help organize.

The exclusivity started out harmless enough. Everyone knows that play groups are geared toward older children and toddlers...generally age 2 and above. You get people who join with babies, and feel like they can't participate fully because their kid just lays there, drools, and poops. So, what do you do? As a good group organizer you plan a few play dates per month (which started as just one per month) just for babies. These are generally at someone's home and the space is limited to 6-8 mommies. It really was great while it lasted, but for about 6 months or so, Adrien was the only walker attending these events. He'd run circles around (and over sometimes) the other babies there. Finally, when he turned 18 months, we called these little play dates quits.

I thought it wouldn't be so bad, really. I'd known for a while that Adrien was quite bored at those little get togethers. I'd let it go on so long because I enjoyed getting to see my friends at those events. But alas it was time to say good bye. But since we've stopped going to those play dates, there's been little we can participate in and fully enjoy. We aren't old enough to participate in the home preschool our group does. We can't go to the bounce houses. The mall is getting tiring because Adrien now runs out of the exit to the play area constantly and we spend the whole time with me chasing him around the mall instead of watching him play. When we do have pot lucks, I'm able to attend -- but only assuming I've RSVP'd in time to make the number attending cut off (which lately doesn't happen).

I have nothing. I have not been to one single play date this week. Not one. I was planning to go to one this past Tuesday, but Andi took that morning off and since it was his birthday, I stayed home. It was a clothing swap anyway, and the only other ones attending all have girls, boys that are younger than Adrien, or they themselves wear clothing not compatible with the size I wear. There was no point in going anyway. I had nothing to swap and no one to trade with. There was a play date today, but it was a Tea Party for girls only. Sure they said they'd let boys in (who can really discriminate), but it really is for girls. On top of it, there was a 10 person maximum that was filled long ago. Originally there was also supposed to be a baby play date today. At a person's home who happens to be a good friend of mine. But could I attend? No. We're too old. It was rescheduled anyway.

The solution was to fill the age void with toddler play dates -- like the baby play dates. We put one on the calendar and thus far, I'm the only one to RSVP "yes" other than the hostess (who will, of course, be there). On top of it, the hostess of that play date is the girl who stole all of my cheese. Maybe I'll just go to steal hers. I knew that would happen though. I'd thought of the toddler play dates long ago, but figured there wouldn't be any response. And there wasn't. There are no kids left in the group that are Adrien's we have nowhere to go. Nothing to do.

It's sad, really. I feel very left out. No one else understands, really. The other organizers all have their little niche to fit into. I guess They'll understand soon enough when their kids grow into another age group. But by then the other kids in that bracket will have grown too. I guess Adrien and are just left to ourselves. There are no other 18 month olds, or compatible levels, for us to socialize with.

What sucks even more ass is that all of my friends that I used to see are all too busy with play dates in their own kid's age groups. These are all things I can not attend because of stupid limitations and restrictions. I mean, whatever happened to the days where we all did the same thing all the time. There was one play date scheduled on a particular day and if you couldn't go, you just couldn't go. There was a time when we didn't split it up by age...or by how many people would fit at someone's home.

It's just exclusive now. And I'm excluded.


Rantings by a Middle Aged Drama Queen said...

Yeah, the people limit thing did get crazy! I remember when the limit was like 20 which is OK but 10 and 5.........CRAZY! You have to think only 20 or so people rsvp at a given event. I think the group should be more strict on dues and that number will DROP. I say one playdate and 1 week after that no group. Also maybe set the number to 40 total members. I will gladly step down to allow a more "active" member to participate.

Kelly said...

Wow, thats weird. What happened to kids playing with each other and interacting together no matter what age..I mean since when can't a 2 year old play with a 6 year old? Jack plays with the 9 year old boy next door. I think all ages should play together..mix it up a bit, makes it more fun and interesting.

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

Wow! I think I'd get my own little "clique" and start a new playgroup! LOL!

I know how you feel! I'm not into cliques so it's hard for me too!

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

I get EXACTLY what you are saying. For me, playgroups are NOT worth the drama, cliques...everything you talked about. It's hard to find activities and kids the same age with too many people.

I think it's easier to get together with a few moms you know and have your own "playdate."

OHmommy said...

Wow ... that is a HUGE playgroup. Maybe time to start organizing an EARLY CHILDHOOD PTA.

The government gives you a grant to organize an early childhood pta for kids not yet in school.

I am the newsletter editor of our ECPTA and we have 330 families in the surrounding area that joing together for monthly trips, adult parties, small playgroups, bbok clubs, cooking clubs, kids seasonal parties. etc....

It is an amazing group. I won't list my groups website since my name is plastered over it - but here is one

Mr Lady said...

Wow. I have never been to a playgroup or been a member of one, and I had no idea how complicated it is.

Some of the best moms and kids for mine to play with that I have ever met have come from encounters at restaurants and grocery stores.

You'll find it. You will.

B said...

Dear OhMommy:

Thanks for your comment! LOL I actually have a whole post about ECPTAs in the area...poking fun. If you find the post ever, I hope you're not offended, haha! Those things have just started around here. I'm not into the big group thing, but they are pretty popular here I think.



Do NOT give up your spot :) No reason to. I love you and so does everyone else.

Dear everyone else:

I'm too tired to respond individually LOL! Thanks though. Everything everyone said was well noted!