Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making Friends on the Playground

One of the stereotypes of Minnesotans that I find to be very true is that people make friends for life. What I mean by that is that for many of us, our best friends as adults, are often people we’ve know since high school or even grade school. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the things I love about my life in Minnesota. I have history with most of the people I interact with that is loaded with great memories. But (there is always a but, isn’t there?) I have recently started to realize that this mindset makes it difficult to expand your social circles.

Take kids sporting events for instance. My son recently started playing football. He is on a team that is filled with kids who have been playing together for a few years and he is the new guy. Now kids can make friends and fit in easily, but as a parent, trying to break into the mom-clique is no easy task. Even the dad’s tend to stick to themselves and talk to the “guys” they know well. Now I am a relatively friendly person, if a little shy at first. I have no trouble meeting “Non-vanilla” people at social events. They want to meet new people, talk, and find new common interests so it is easy to walk up to a group of people talking about something and just join in the conversation.

This is not the case on the playground! I find myself trying to join into the conversation and one of two things happen. I get a relatively blank stare with a “polite” smile or I get lost in my own thoughts because what they are talking about is so boring I just can’t follow (ie; discussing their 11 year old sons’ bathroom habits or setting up junior high “play dates”).

I make friends much easier in situations where I can smile a lot, flirt a little, and ask strangely personal questions to really get to know someone. I am pretty sure that this kind of behavior on the playground will not only turn me into an outcast but also make life difficult for my children. So for now, I will do my best to pick appropriate topics and step out of my comfort zone just a little by being bold and introducing myself to those mom’s despite the fact that they look at me like I am not one of them because our kids did not go to the same pre-school. Maybe I will meet someone I have something in common with that way. Wish me luck!


  1. Best of luck! If I may suggest something, consider an extra effort (if one is needed) in volunteering for team activities. This has helped me get to know other parents in my kid's School Council.
    All the best, and may your son enjoy his football career :-)

  2. Hi Jade!
    We can totally relate to what you are talking about! Although I'd say it's not unique to your region.
    You've just gotten your settings re-calibrated to NVT or Non-vanilla!
    In a non-vanilla setting we find it very easy to meet people. MrsLS is of course a great ice breaker all on her own, and we find the conversations and introductions flowing easily. I seem to remember making friends in spite of jet-lag quickly at the hot tub in Mexico!
    At work we have something in common with everyone and again it is easy to find something to talk about and all goes well.
    In a vanilla setting it is far easier to become a wallflower and watch the action. Introductions by comparison seem forced and the conversation is halting and often filled with topics I just don't honestly care about.
    We recently introduced a couple we've known for a long time to the lifestyle. Now they are amazed at how boring and uncomfortable their regular vanilla BBQs seem in contrast.
    Don't worry, you are a fun friendly person. It will take a bit longer to break the ice with all that vanilla in it, but be yourself and the wall of "polite" smiles will melt into genuine companionship as the season moves on.

  3. Team LS, Thanks for the comment! You are so sweet. P.S. Were your ears ringing last night? We were talking about you and how great you guys with Ernie Mikey last night. Wish you weren't so far away...