Five Types of Parents You Never Want to Run Into at the Playground


The worst parents ever; you meet them just about everywhere you go. One slowly making all worst parents past look like saints. We are a Florida family, and that often means spending our weekends on the boat with the kids. Our group of friends gets together, puts in at a favorite dock and then rides out to a place we call Sandy Hook, a small island off-shore where we leave the boats anchored and hop out to enjoy the calm, shallow water. Everyone in our small town goes out here, and it’s not uncommon to see dozens of boats anchored out here on any given day. And it’s not uncommon to see things out here that might make you raise an eyebrow. It was just a few weeks ago when a boat docked near our array of boats and off jumped a couple of kids. In our group, we had six kids (we left the babies home on this particular day) and they all wear their life vests at all times and we have 6 sets of eyes on them at all times.

But it was the kids on this other boat, the same age as ours (2-7) who were not wearing life vests and whose parents let them jump off the boat and immediately make their way over to us where they spent the rest of the day that caught our attention. We didn’t know them, but we played with them while their parents popped open their drinks and socialized with other boats. Sometimes we couldn’t even see them, and we became responsible for these extra kids. That’s just one example of a ‘worst parent ever,’ seeing as how there is not a chance in hell my kids are out of my site in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico at any moment in time. It’s called responsibility and safety; but that’s just me – and the playground is even worse.

The playground is the parents’ equivalent of the classroom. It’s where cliques are formed, questionable decisions are made, and judgment runs rampant. Oh, I’m sorry – did you think it was just a bunch of plastic germ-covered gym equipment? Darling, not even close. It’s the place for parents to see and be seen, and it’s the place where most of us hope to God we don’t run into ‘those parents,” while we’re there. Are you one of them?

The Blind Parent

What? Huh? You didn’t see your precious little Johnny just dump a pile of sand on top of my little angel? Of course you didn’t; your child would never do something like that, and if you pretend you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen right? This is the parent we all love to hate; the parent who does one of two things. This parent either pretends they saw nothing so that they do not have to admit their child is a raging little monster guilty of profound misbehavior or they’re just not paying an iota of attention (probably because they’re busy updating their Facebook status to let their friends and family know that they are at the park with their kids being the best mom ever). This is the parent that makes us all do things we don’t like doing; chastising other people’s kids for being jerks inappropriate. Ladies and gentlemen, if I wanted another child to discipline, I’d have more.

The Wheeler and the Dealer

“Mommy! Look at me! Look at me!” Now repeat this phrase 72640514616654 times when Jr.’s request is met with one finger in the air and no eye contact from mom or dad because they’re too busy carrying on the world’s most obnoxiously loud business conversation you’ve ever encountered.

“No, I will not sign off on that, and if you think for one second that I’m going to allow this type of behavior to continue, you are dead wrong and you can pack up your personal belongings by the end of the day….hold on,” and she covers the mouthpiece with a hand and screams, “Jr.! I’m ON THE PHONE, give me a second and I will help you out,” before returning to her call with no intention of getting off the phone and actually paying attention to her kid the rest of the day.

Give the kid a thumbs up and move on, lady.

The Never-Present Parent

“Hey, can you watch my little one while I run big sister to the potty, please? Thanks!”

Um…sure strange lady I’ve never met before in my life. I’d love to watch your kid for the next 20 minutes while you pretend to be in the bathroom with you oldest when we all know you’re in the car pounding a beer from inside that cooler you have in the back of your minivan. Also, I don’t know you, so there’s that. You might not think that a stranger would ever ask you to watch their child for a quick second to do anything – because, you know, you wouldn’t do that – but they do. Because the park is a safe place in which everyone becomes immediate family and child molesters, kidnappers and creeps do not exist thanks to an invisible force-field that keeps them at bay.

Do not make eye contact with anyone. If this does not work, smile, nod and say, “Yeah, just let me call my parole officer really quickly and ask if babysitting is off-limits on the terms of my release,” and that should do the trick.

The Gossip

“Did you hear? Little Johnny’s mom is suing his dad for child support and divorce after she found him with his secretary. And Susie’s mom has to go back to work because her husband was…” pause to look dramatically around before using the worst stage whisper around to finish, “laid off!” with pleasure so obvious it just invited Karma over for dinner. The gossip is the worst mom to encounter on the playground, because she’s just mean. No one cares, for one. And secondly, we live in a world in which we all have our issues and our problems, and it would be nice if we could just support one another instead of being the adult version of Mean Girls. The gossip is probably an insecure nightmare looking to make friends because there is nothing redeemable and likable about her she doesn’t feel she can make friends by being herself.

The Organic Only Mom from Your Nightmares

Listen; I don’t care if you feed your kid all organic food or all breast milk until she’s 35 or you cloth diaper or you gave birth without epidural in the middle of a swimming pool in your mother-in-law’s bathroom with your brother officiating a wedding in the next room so you didn’t have to miss such an amazing family event. But I do care when you are one of ‘those’ moms that tries to make everyone else feel as if they are failures as parents. Because here is the deal; while most of us don’t care if our kids have a happy meal for dinner (we didn’t have to cook or clean, so, you know, win!), there are some parents lacking confidence, and your haughty opinion and turned up nose can make them feel as if they are doing something wrong. And that’s a problem.

So I’m going to let my kid eat her processed meat and fake cheese lunchable on the picnic table at the park while I sip a rum and diet coke masked as an iced drink inside my Yeti tumbler and not care that your kid is eating homemade goat’s milk from the teets of a Swiss-milk maid raised goat that dined only on gold and diamonds while enduring nightly full body massages. Could you kindly do the same, please?

You’re a mom, I’m a mom, our kids are still alive at the end of the day and we are still in one piece, so we all win. We all did a great job. That’s all that matters – and no one cares who uses what diapers and where your kids sleep. Instead of giving other moms hell for not making all their own baby food, give her a high five for even remembering to feed her kid today after she spent an hour cleaning poop off the bathroom walls since her toddler forgets to flush and her 1-year-old twins have figured out how to open doors.

Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images


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