I started chatting with this woman at the splash pad today. I’d never seen her around before, but I did see her partner with their kids at the splash pad and the library last weekend. I recognized him because he’s got a tattoo sleeve — you don’t see tattoos too often, if at all, on the parents around here. In a predominantly white, middle-to-upper-middle-class, slightly suburban-esque neighbourhood, seeing atypical parents like that makes me smile. Anyhow, I liked the simplicity of her daughters’ bathing suits and I asked her where she got them (Zellers, by way of hand-me-downs, incidentally). Through our brief conversation, I learnt they live in an apartment (like us!), co-sleep (like us!) and used to live in Toronto (where we’d like to live, if it weren’t so prohibitively expensive), where her partner was a student.

Most other families in the neighbourhood own houses and often discuss house-related issues like mortgages and renovations. Usually, at least one parent works a full-time job too; I don’t think I’ve met any parents who are students. I find that despite being out of school for a while now, I can still best relate to students. I’m most comfortable when I’m on-campus (with or without the child). Of course, it helps that I can still blend into the student scene too. Full-time jobs, home ownership and certain other markers of a very [ahem] “adult” life are things I have no desire engage in at this point in my life, nor in the near future. Because of these two factors (among others), I find it more difficult to relate to the other parents in the neighbourhood (I hardly mention the differences in our lifestyles but for some reason, they always assume — correctly — that we don’t have a car. How do they do that?!). That, and I don’t relish talking about kids all the time. The other parents I talk with are mere acquaintances — the only reason we even began speaking in the first place was because we have kids. I don’t quite see myself as being friends with them, so I generally keep my distance to avoid too many awkward conversations.

Anyway, I got a little excited while talking to this woman, because her family seems to share some similarities with ours. Oh, we even talked a bit about kids and commercial culture: while I’m generally against kids and commercialism, and she said she was too initially (which immediately piqued my interest), but she also made an interesting point about how she enjoyed her childhood with commercial characters (I did too) and her daughter likes “pretty things,” so for her, it’s more about the object itself than the commercialism or backstory surrounding a character. I don’t share her point-of-view, but I do see where she’s coming from. We parted ways without saying goodbye, but I do hope I run into her again at some point.


2 responses

  1. Oh, I totally get you…I still find it hard to relate to [ahem] “adult” life even though I’m in my 40s and have a kid and own a car! Lol! I have a mortgage, too! even though we haven’t officially moved in to our new home yet, but we’re already, definitely bound by contract. I think it’s a form of psychological pressure that people thrust upon themselves, and it starts around the time you graduate from college. And it never really goes away. For some, that pressure to fit in to an ‘adulthood’ can last an entire lifetime, because you’re always striving to achieve a common ground with others (never mind materialistic gains) and once you do achieve it you try regress to a simpler, pressure-free way of life…how ironic, really. Nina and I have talked about it several times, when I initiated the conversation by saying, “I think I’m a late bloomer,” and she totally understood. I’m glad she did, ’cause she’s twelve years my junior and at times I think she’s the older one. But haven’t you noticed it’s the people that have smaller circles of friends that suffer from this? The smaller the circle, the more pressure to relate, I think.

    July 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

  2. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who can’t really relate to “adult” life :)

    I think the fact that everyone compares themselves is because there’s some unspoken ideal adult life where you graduate from university, get a “good” job (whatever that means!), get married, buy a home, have kids and then you retire and die. And somehow everyone seems to know this and if you deviate, you get some strange looks (I think I’m the black sheep in my family for having a child out of wedlock and not having a career following graduation). I find myself drawn to people who haven’t followed the traditional routines of adult life in that order, or those who defy the stereotypes of adulthood. I don’t know… I’m more or less content with the way I’ve chosen to live my life but sometimes I do feel a little pinch, when everyone else starts talking about all the adult things I can’t relate to.

    August 7, 2011 at 12:55 am

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