BossLady and I love taking the Peanut to different playgrounds all over New York City. Not only do we like the fact that the physical diversity of them is so interesting but we also enjoy exposing the Peanut to different neighborhoods around the city. Over the past two years, we've taken her to playgrounds from Chinatown to Harlem.
But no matter where we go to in this city, we tend to find the same types of playground parents everywhere!
With that in mind, MetroDad presents "The Eight Types of Playground Parents," a detailed anthropological study of homos parentus. Enjoy...
Species: Worrius Protectus
Signature Behavior: Standing within 12 inches of their child at all times!
Distinctive Markings: First aid kit fanny pack, anti-bacterial wipes, furrowed brow
Natural Enemies: Unsupervised children
Mating Call: "Wait for mommy! Don't climb that!"
The hoverer is usually a woman, most often the mother of an only child whom she protects like the last surviving member of the Hapsburg family.
She's the one who is constantly worried that her child might fall down at any given moment and it's her responsibility to make sure that NEVER happens! When the kid is climbing the jungle gym, she puts her hand on his behind. When he's going down the slide, she's always right there to catch him at the bottom. If he's on the swing, someone must be standing both in front of him AND behind him at all times.
Hoverers are sometimes known as "helicoptor parents." They are so named because, like a helicopter, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach whether their children need them or not. Although the umbilical cord may have been cut at birth, the Hoverer believes that her children could not possibly survive without her.
THE EXECUTIVE DAD
Species: Blackberryus Irritatus
Signature Behavior: Text-messaging the office
Distinctive Markings: Blackberry, Bluetooth headset, Hermes tie
Natural Enemies: Hippies, SAHDs, and anyone not in the corporate rat race
Mating Call: "Hold on a sec, kiddo. Daddy's on a very important conference call."
You can always spot Executive Dad out of a crowd. He's the one who
looks most out of his element and speaks to his children the same way
he speaks to secretaries, first-year analysts, paralegals, or interns.
Playground sightings of Executive Dad are extremely rare. Usually, he
defers playground duties to the nanny.
Don't ask Executive Dad to change a diaper. He's never done that his entire life. He tends to know very little about his children. In fact, when pressed, Executive Dad might admit that children were actually his wife's idea. He would have been happy just driving a new Porsche or lowering his golf handicap!
CRAZY PTA MOM
Species: Insanus Multitaskus
Signature Behavior: Regulating every single minute of her child's free time
Distinctive Markings: Google calendar on Treo, Violin, Tae Kwan Do outfit
Natural Enemies: Slacker moms
Mating Call: "If we're going to make it to Suzuki on time, we have to leave RIGHT NOW!"
On the surface, PTA mom looks very normal. Sensibly dressed, practical, and completely genial. However, upon closer inspection, you'll notice that PTA mom bears a strong resemblance to a strung-out crystal meth addict. She is a blur of non-stop action!
When she's not lobbying parents in the playground to help with the latest bake sale fundraiser, she's organizing tupperware parties, running triathlons, and volunteering at the local hospital. Her child's schedule is similarly regulated. No child of hers is going to lollygag the day away in a sandbox!
In the playground, PTA mom can often be heard instructing her children how to play properly. However, this usually doesn't last long because it's often time to head out for the next activity. Some biologists believe that natural PTA moms do not really exist and that the phenomenon is due to a narcotic addiction to Ritalin!
Species: Nealus Pollackus
Signature Behavior: Reading Spin magazine while sitting in the swing set
Distinctive Markings: "Dead Kennedys" t-shirt, rocker shades, Seven jeans, Vans
Natural Enemies: The Wiggles, Elmo, Yuppie scum
Mating Call: "Let's blow this sappy joint, kiddo, and go home to spin some vinyl."
Every playground has a hipster dad. Generally a man clinging to the
last vestiges of his youth, he can often be seen wearing the same
clothing as his children. That's cool though because he's tight with
his kids. They don't "play" together per se. They "hang."
Hipster Dad tends to be relatively self-consumed. Whereas he believes that he is simply not allowing the presence of children in his life to alter his previously childless lifestyle, he generally fails to realize that he has himself become a cliche. However, despite his failings, Hipster Dads are generally excellent parents who spend much time interacting with their children.
Hipster Dads are rarely seen in playgrounds. However, they can often be found accompanying their children to used-record stores, alternative concerts, or Fellini film festivals.
Species: Shabbius Chicus
Signature Behavior: Pretending to play in the sandbox
Distinctive Markings: Balenciaga hobo bag, Prada shades, shag haircut, Range Rover
Natural Enemies: Dirty children, uncooperative nannies, Mom jeans
Mating Call: "Mommy's going to Pilates now, honey, but Rosita will play with you."
Soho Mom is a sub-species of mother rarely seen outside of lower Manhattan. She is recognizable by her meticulously-crafted ensembles that seem to display a casual insoucence but also belie her enormous wealth. Sure, she's wearing jeans, a t-shirt and some low-tops. However, that outfit cost more than your monthly mortage payment!
Soho Mom rebels against the wealthy society women of previous generations. However, in reality, she is extremely similar. In fact, cultural anthropologists believe the development of Soho mom is a testament to Darwin's theories of evolution. Years ago, Soho mom might have worn white gloves and a pillbox hat. Now, she rocks boho-chic with the best of them!
At the playground, you'll rarely see Soho Mom playing with her children. Usually she can be seen giving instructions to her nanny while flipping through the latest issue of Vogue. Soho Mom considers her children to be the ultimate accessory so you'll often see them dressed in similar styles.
THE "PETER PAN" DAD
Species: Dadus Immaturus
Signature Behavior: Being chased by every kid in the playground, hogging slide
Distinctive Markings: Cargo pants, food-stained t-shirt, baseball cap on backwards
Natural Enemies: Grown-ups
Mating Call: "Who wants to play tag?"
Peter Pan Dad loves playing with children because it allows him to unleash his inner child. His general immaturity makes him the ideal playmate. In fact, like many children, he often throws a tantrum when told that it's time to leave the playground and go home. Frequently, Peter Pan Dad's wife feels like she's raising a family of children by herself!
At the playground, Peter Pan Dad is easy to spot. He's the Pied Piper, leading all the kids through a wide array of activities. He's like an enthusiastic camp counselor on steroids! The good thing about Peter Pan Dad is that he usually tires easily. His unbridled impetuosity is usually no match for his prolonged age. After several hours in the playground, Peter Pan Dad can usually be found passed out on a park bench.
THE BOOKWORM MOM
Species: Spectator Literatus
Signature Behavior: Reading Emily Dickinson on a bench while her child goes unattended
Distinctive Markings: Horn-rimmed glasses, wool shawl, PBS tote bag
Natural Enemies: Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Christopher Hitchens
Mating Call: "I'm sorry, honey. Did you say something?"
Bookworm Mom's natural environment is the Upper West Side of Manhattan or any liberal arts college town. You can recognize her because her head is always buried in a book or the latest issue of the The New Yorker. Sometimes, she will have hummus stains on her sensible cardigan sweater. She may or may not have ink marks on her mouth from chewing on pens.
Usually employed as an editor or academic, Bookworm Mom enjoys bringing her child to the playground. While young Atticus plays with other members of his peer group, Bookworm Mom likes to sit underneath a tree, pondering the latest literary review from Joyce Carol Oates or reading that fascinating essay in the New York Review of Books comparing Spinoza to Gottfried Leibniz. Sometimes, she gets so lost in her thoughts that she forgets to feed Atticus or change his diaper.
However, despite her absentmindedness, she's usually a very responsible parent. Compared to most playground parents, she's hermetically harmless. In fact, you might not even notice she's there.
THE COACH DAD
Species: Homo Testosteronus
Signature Behavior: Threatening to beat up little kids
Distinctive Markings: Muscle tee, gym shorts, porn moustache
Natural Enemies: Civility, restraint, New Age parents
Mating Call: "I'll kick your ass!"
Coach Dad is like the Bobby Knight of parenting. He's a bully, a lout, and a borderline psychotic. Somewhere in his past, he was most likely a failed athlete or a wimp. But make no mistake about it. Things are going to be different with his kid.
You'll often see Coach Dad berating his children at the playground for not throwing the ball far enough or for being afraid of going down the slide. See, Coach Dad hates weakness of any kind. No kid of his will be a spineless wimp! Of course, this usually drives Coach Dad to insane extremes. Frequently, he'll threaten young children who cut in front of his own progeny when going down the slide. Other times, he'll even threaten their parents!
In his later years, Coach Dad can usually be found on the local news for beating up a Little League ref who had the audacity to call that third strike on his child. Years of anger management classes usually do very little to temper Coach Dad. Heart attacks, aneurysms, and road rage are the usual causes of death for Coach Dad.
Personally, I'm reluctant to admit it but, aside from Coach Dad, I'm probably a cross between all of these types of parents. Anyway, did I leave out any playground stereotypes here? Are these types of parents only indigenous to Manhattan? What about where you live? And what playground parent stereotype are YOU?