I am not a social person by nature, so when I am forced to interact with others I spend a lot of time thinking about the impression I am trying to make on the people I am meeting. I know that my shy silence can be taken as cool reserve, leading people to think I am aloof, so I give a lot of thought to what I will say & how I will say it. I am easily flustered by simple questions like “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?”.
I worry a lot about boxes. I don’t mind them much. When you first meet a group of people it is handy to have adjectives to hang on them to help you remember each one. When each child has at least 15 classmates, you are not going to get close & friendly with 30 other moms (at least, I’m not) so it’s helpful to say “Billy’s mom Joyce. She’s the one that sells Mary Kay.” or “Caitlin’s mom Ann. She made the mural on the classroom wall.” I worry though because there isn’t much to say about me. “Havoc’s mom. You know, the quiet one.” or worse “The snobby one who won’t talk to us.”
I know from past PTA type experience around here, that first impressions are the only impression unless you really get to know someone, so I figure since I am going to be put in a box I might as well choose which one I want. I tend to prepare what sort of persona I want to show before I meet people. I think about hobbies, work and activity related things, questions about what the new person does and try to come up with a truthful yet very indirect answer to the inevitable “Where do you go to church?” question.
(saying upfront that I belong to a Wiccan coven leads to a good deal of immediate awkwardness in an area where 19 out of 20 kids get out of an hour of class time every month to attend the bible bus parked in the soccer field. I’m awkward enough socially without adding that.)
The boys had martial arts class Monday. I have been the only parent there for the past 3 classes, which is a bit boring for me. I decided this time I would bring the crochet project I am working on to kill time. Only this time more kids showed up for the class, and their moms stayed. We parents sit over in a corner out of the way and I was already crocheting when they joined me. We talked a bit about the class & about the teachers our children would have in school this year (the martial arts class is for the k-2nd graders at the primary school). The conversation eventually came around to what I was making. I said it was an apple & since it was obvious she wanted to know why I said I was making them to give to the boys’ teachers at the meet & greet.
I could see the from their expressions the instant I became THAT MOM. The crafty one that helps out in the classroom with creative projects and gives out handmade overly elaborate goodie bags along with decorative cupcakes on their child’s birthday. I could tell from their questions & the direction of the conversation they were thinking I’d probably put together a scrapbook of classroom activities for an end of year teacher gift.
I am *so* not that mom.
I am hard pressed to explain why I suddenly decided to crochet apples for the boys’ teachers. Probably vague guilt over the way I totally failed to do end of year gifts in May and the lame unwrapped gift cards I gave for Xmas.
One of the martial arts moms is Havoc’s new teacher’s SIL. I live in fear on meet & greet day I’ll be greeted as “Oh you are the crafty one! Shannon told me all about you!” and then I will be asked to lead some art classes.
Still, it’s better than being the silent/snobby one.