How do things evolve into Cliques?
Does anyone ever wonder?
Even the most sincere intention of reaching out to mummies and making more friends that have some common ground can turn into something exclusive and defeat the initial objectives, and intentions of an individual(s).
I have never really been a part of clique, except once at work and have vowed after that experience to never be a part of one again as things always get ugly. Humans seem to enjoy wielding a little bit of power, no matter how insignificant it may be, eventually imaginary lines will be crossed and sides be taken, a type of experience you thought you left at school has never really disappeared. The nicest ever group setting I have ever experienced was when I studied art at further education level, there was no competition (obviously there was in grades, but just didn’t feel it or any hostility), just a genuine interest in our common subject matter, all unique individuals with different experiences, maturity levels that shared living in a certain geographical location. That was the nicest social grouping I have ever experienced, maybe because I decided never to get involved in petty social politics and had a hunger to do my best in my subject matter and never ever have experienced anything like it again, even when doing some evening art courses (perhaps it just takes longer to get a real cameraderie going).
However, mummy social groups have taken me back to school (maybe perhaps as so many are straight out of school, just kidding, putting my judgemental side away, as seriously it gets worse with age as then sometimes it is about status seeking as well) or even something different than school, some there is just a disinterest in making friends as social support groups have been already established and you never get beyond social pleasantries, others just already have a tight bond with mums they already know and go to playgroups with these buddies, and sit in a huddle chatting more than interacting with their children. Hormones and sleep deprivation probably doesn’t help either in the early days.
The reason I am pondering about cliquey behaviour this weekend as our favourite weekend playgroup has changed locations and runs from a church hall further away from us, which is a little bit of a pain as liked the fact we could just walk to it and now we have to take a bus ride to get to it. I understand the playgroup organisers’ reasons it has made it more simple for them to run it from one location instead of two, the one we originally went to wasn’t getting the numbers, although think we preferred the more laid back feel and bigger space. The playgroup organisers need the numbers to secure further future funding, so understand their decision.
However, obviously we are all getting use to a new setting, including my son, whose immediate thought that the new location was too quiet, it wasn’t in the end, a very busy playgroup, don’t think busy is always better. I am sure he will adjust anyway in time and it is something we only do once per month.
I overestimated the journey duration to get there, so we were the first family to arrive and were early, the organiser as usual was very polite and explained where things were in the new venue for us. The most comic moment for me was my son was happily playing with a toy train set and I was sat down with him on the floor, and then I heard the voices of other children and said to my son ‘look other children and families are arriving’ and my son said ‘where?’ It happened to be ‘mummy nemesis’ who I haven’t seen in the flesh since September last year. My OH gave me a knowing look and I just smiled back and laughed. Killer timing. Anyhow, despite this we enjoyed playgroup and will go again. However, the change in scenery and going to this playgroup for the first time got me thinking about cliques and cliquey behaviour in general.
Obviously the one group I am using as an example in this blog today is not the only bonded group of friends at this playgroup we attend, but using it as I have met two of the ladies previously (including mummy nemesis) and one I haven’t. Mummy nemesis was more in her comfort zone here as people she knew were there, and one other lady that I previously met at one of the few social meet ups that I tried to organise, but got no where as most people who said they would attend bailed out for one reason or another, or just never turned up and I have to admit I have to cancel my own meet up suggestions a lot due to illness, so much so it probably looked like I had bottled it. However, what’s surprising that the other lady who I will call ‘floaty mummy’ (look up floater and cliques) that I had met up with before and who I suggested the local online meet up group and weekend playgroup to didn’t even recognise that she had met us before, chuckles, bad memory or intentional who knows? Yes, could have said something myself like, ‘long time, no see, how are you?’, but no point making a big deal out of a one off meeting that happened two years ago to get a blank look back and I am happy that my random acts of kindness helped people make new friends (and I still help out where possible now when I see a online plead for relief from isolation with whatever suggestions I can make). It was a bit like blanking the person you wish you hadn’t slept with, it never happened.
However, it wasn’t just the adults I noticed being cliquey, but the children, more understandable as children find it more reassuring with socialising with familiar faces, but first time I noticed my son ever being excluded from play. At first I sat back and observed without comment, second time I stepped in and just said ‘play nicely, the younger children just don’t understand your game’ and then told my son what the children were trying to do and then yes, the children were a little more cooperative with each other and nicer to the younger children including my son and another child. However, I do wonder if the more cliquey parents monitored and interacted with their children’s play more instead of constant chinwagging that their children may learn more from the experience instead of copying cliquey behaviour they see their adults display.
Despite my previous negative experience or failures with socialising with other mums not just at playgroup, I am going to try again to be social with mums I have never met before soon as taking some time off of work and see what happens. Yes, like a mummy date and hoping not to be stood up, although sometimes that is the easy way out haha Still think friendships that develop organically are better, but don’t have much chance of that with working all the time, and if at long last I ever hit it off with someone (God hate how this always sounds like dating), I vow not to get cliquey! I have included some links about cliques, how to handle them for both yourself and your children.