High school was not kind to me. I suffered the obligatory pubescent spots and the dead sexy metallic mouth of metal for a start, but to top it off, I sported a high voltage perm for the majority of my secondary school years, complete with blonde foils about 20cm thick and I played the flute in the school band. My Mum worked full time so wasn’t one of those mothers who was liable to pop up sporadically weeding a rose garden, running the cake stall or manning the canteen and I only had a very small handful of friends. I was friendly to the people around because we all had one thing in common; we were all just trying to get through the most awkward years of our lives, not realising just how insignificant all the monumentally important stuff was at the time.
In high school, you rarely pick your friends based on common interests or compatibility. They are either the friends you have had since you were in primary school, or a group of kids you meshed into as a survival mechanism against the masses. School Mums aren’t much different. You think about it; we are all pushed together with one goal in mind, to get our kids educated and to make friends. How many of the women you are friends with through your own kids friendship’s would you have actually picked for yourself?
Take away the kids and how much do you really have in common? I always joke to my husband that I never have any trouble striking up conversations in environments with others mothers, you just start talking about birth stories and raising kids and you’ve got enough conversational fodder to last a lifetime. And it’s the lucky ones who make school mum friends. What if you are left on the outside, looking in? Much like the spotty, permed, brace-face of high school, some Mums just find it hard to ‘get in’ with the school mum crowd.
Lets face it, school mums can be bitchy. Every school I know has a clique-y, nasty group of Mums that alienate and bully other mothers, all the while preaching just how immature and ‘high school’ this behaviour is. These Mums can pick on just about anything, from lifestyle choices to school pick-up/drop-off wardrobe selection, your financial situation to your child’s academic achievements. Usually stereotyped as the bullies from high school that just moved into their own child’s playground, these women can make your child’s school environment intolerable and the torment can even spill over into your child’s school life, with kids mimicking the behaviour of their parents and repeating gossip they have heard secondhand.
But what is to be expected really, when a group of people are pushed together simply for a common goal and no common interests? Like children forced to get along, adults don’t respond well to being in situations where they feel obligated to make an effort and get along with people they otherwise would choose not to. But the bottom line is, we are not in high school anymore, we are adults. Surely the lessons learnt from high school experiences show us how damaging bullying and torment can be? Or are we going to continue this behaviour well into our twilight years? Will there be this kind of bullshit in the common lounge room of the old folks home?
The saving grace, as an adult, is that if you find yourself in an uncomfortable and upsetting situation, you can change it. But how sad to find yourself avoiding a place so integral to your child’s life, just because of the nastiness and immaturity of people who hold no authority or superiority over you, but are under the deluded assumption that they do. Maybe we all need to return to the classroom for a lesson in respect and decency, and a wake up call on equality and acceptance.
Have you ever experienced bullying as a school mum? Do you believe being a school mum is like being in high school?