I pulled into the driveway, leaned over to kiss my daughter sitting in the passenger seat, and in a rush of words said, “ByeIloveyoubegoodhavefun.” My daughter unfastened her seatbelt, then leaned down and took her time gathering her belongings. She paused for a moment to ask me a question but I was only half listening as I scanned the house where I was dropping her off, looking for signs of her friend’s mom.
“What time do you want me home tomorrow?” She asked again.
“I’ll pick you up around noon, okay,” I replied, anxious for her to get out of the car before her friend’s mom came outside.
But timing was not on my side.
Just as my daughter opened the door, her friend’s mom walked outside and made a beeline to my car. I groaned inwardly and reluctantly put down my window to say hello.
What do you do when you can’t stand the parents of your kids’ friends?
With six kids, the oldest of whom is now 20 years old, I’ve met my share of fellow parents over the years. For the most part, I’ve really liked all of them. Through playdates and BBQs, school functions and class trips, I’ve made some very good friends through my kids.
But still, in the past 20 years, there has been that small handful of parents I’ve tried to avoid. I want to let my kids play with their friends, I just don’t want to interact with the parents of those friends. It’s that simple.
This friend’s mom in particular is pretty self-centered and talks nonstop. She feels the need to be the center of attention. She thrives on drama and tries to drag others into her catastrophes. I don’t think I’ve ever said more than five words to her, mainly because she doesn’t stop talking long enough for me to get a single word in.
I have no desire to connect with this parent, but I don’t want there to be an uncomfortable strain on the relationship between our kids either. Shortly after we met, I decided that first impressions are sometimes wrong. So I tried to get to know her, thinking that maybe if I had a better understanding of where she’s coming from, I might better be able to deal with her.
Nope. I just don’t like her.
I try to be mature about it because I know my kids are always looking to me for guidance and I don’t want to inadvertently teach them bad behaviors. I really do try to be gracious in my interactions with her because I want my kids to learn how to treat other people, even ones they don’t like, with a degree of respect and kindness.
But mostly? Mostly I just try to avoid her. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve started conveniently planning trips to the grocery store when she’s on her way to drop off her kid. If I don’t, I know she will walk her kid to my door and stay to talk to me for an hour. Seriously. Every time.
While I actively practice my avoidance technique, I absolutely won’t talk badly about her in front of the kids. I don’t want my opinions to color my daughter’s view of her friend’s mom, or worse, of her friend. This has served me well when the situation was flipped and my kids didn’t care for my friend’s children. My kids may have groaned when they learned that my friend was bringing her kids to my house, but in the end, my kids treated them civilly and respectfully because that is what they learned from me.
Though I try my hardest, some days I fantasize about yelling, “Just. Stop. Talking!” I’m afraid this woman’s behavior is going to rub off on my daughter. I don’t want my daughter getting caught up in her melodrama. I try to persuade the girls to hang out at my house so my daughter isn’t around the craziness of her friend’s mom. So far, however, my daughter seems oblivious. Her friend’s mom doesn’t bother her one bit.
In the end, as uncomfortable as it can be dealing with this parent, I just remember that this is small potatoes. I try not to let these situations unnecessarily stress me out. We’re all different and although it makes things fun and interesting, it also guarantees we’ll meet people throughout our lives that we don’t especially like. It’s okay. We don’t have to be best friends with everyone we meet. We can learn from even the most annoying people out there. Take what you can from and give what you can to the relationship, then let it go.