“Car Park Mafia…”
A few years ago, I read an article in the newspaper about the “Car Park Mafia”. If I hadn’t experienced it and seen it for myself, I would have laughed and thought, “Yeah right, how can that exist?” Instead, I grabbed the newspaper with enthusiasm and eagerly read the article, which spilled the ugly truth about this crazy epidemic sweeping through our schools at lightning speed.
The article told me about mums who were ostracised from the “clicky, cool” group of mums because of the way they dressed, the interests they had, or didn’t have, their opinions, the activities their kids were involved in or good at, the people they knew and talked to, you name it! How some mums waited at the back gate for their kids to come out of school because the thought of walking through the schoolyard was so distressing that it made them feel sick. They could not handle the judgements and gossip that eventuated. How sad, but how true.
I know of a mum who left our school because of this. I thought it was crazy that a little child had to be uprooted and start a new school because of silly mums who felt the need to form a “status” group, and in the process take pleasure from making others feel inadequate. What happened to these women in their lives to create such evil? What is missing in their lives that they need to be so materialistic, and create such an idealistic yet fragile smokescreen to mask who they really are and what they represent? They hunt in packs and when in a group they are a force to be reckoned with. However, catch one of them alone and they are worthless, a small, pitiful, empty soul. A soul that is missing the self-respect and self-belief to make it whole.
Unfortunately, many people can’t see through the facade of the “car park mafia”. They can’t see the sad reality that makes these women look for other women just as empty as them, so that together they gain strength from each other’s inadequacies by trying to make others feel inadequate. What an ironic fact of life.
It would be great if all mums could see these women for who they really are. We are all adults, unfortunately some of us just never grew up emotionally and are still stuck in the playground. They are adult bullies, who are missing the true meaning of being blessed with children. Our kids’ primary school years should be filled with excitement and fun for everyone, not dread and fear because we just aren’t wearing the right shoes today! (Yes, I will wear my sneakers, without the latest matching lycra ensemble to pick up my kids if I want to! I can hear the gasps of shock and horror already!) Come on mums, it’s time to see through this and take charge of the fact that we are happy and comfortable with who we are.
We must remember, these mums only have power if we give it to them. They are egotistical pretenders, and at the end of the day, who really gives a stuff about their opinions about anything really, especially their opinions about you! I actually find them comical and amusing! Live by your own code, not someone else’s!
I strongly believe that I am responsible only to my husband, my kids, my extended family and friends, and of course to myself. I owe it to them to be the best person I can be, and we can’t be our best if we allow such negative, narrow-minded people infiltrate our opinions of ourselves.
So, to all you “car park mafia” members, I say, “Just let it go. It’s time for the little girl in you to leave the playground and grow up. Stop making others feel such desperation and sadness. It really does affect a lot of people and I’m sure you are better than that.”
To all you other mums I say, “Walk past them with your head held high and smile. You are at school to pick up your precious cherubs, the little people who have given you so much in life. Their unconditional love and approval is all you need. You owe it to them to lead by example and be resilient and strong, and to be proud of yourself for who you are, not for what someone else expects you to be.”
Last night at my son’s high school, we had a “Mother/Son Night”. It was beautiful. It was all about reconnecting with our sons as they make the transition from primary school to high school. I looked around the room and saw how the speakers’ words provoked all sorts of emotions in the faces of the mums around me, who were feeling exactly the same as me. I have come to realise that this is a time of wanting to hold on so tight, but knowing that we have to start letting go, just a little bit, as our boys start to grow up into fine young men.
The kids had to bring something that would remind their mum about their childhood, but were not allowed to tell us what it was. So, my boy secretly went upstairs, hunted around until he found what it was he was looking for, and smuggled it into his backpack.
Towards the end of the night, we had to sit with our sons and ask some pre-prepared questions to each other that the school had given us. At the end of this extremely emotional experience, the kids had to present to us what they had chosen to bring with them. At first, my son took out a photo of himself and me when he was a baby. I laughed and cried and soon enough one of his teachers came over. He said to me, “He is special this one, not only because he is beautiful on the outside, but he is beautiful where it counts, in here”, and he touched my son over his heart. On the outside my smile and my tears expressed my appreciation for what he had said. But he had no way of knowing that on the inside my heart felt like it was about to explode, as I remembered his little face when he would come home from primary school, at the stage when he was being bullied, and tell me about what he had gone through that day. Another teacher told me that “He is leadership material, loved by his friends, peers and teachers”. Obviously I was so, so proud, but I also felt an overwhelming sense of relief and confirmation, that my son had overcome the whole bullying experience, without any lasting insecurities or hangups, and had come out of it with a huge amount of strength and resilience. His compassion for others is real, and his love of life is inspiring. Being bullied does not have to define who you are, you can learn from it and move on. He has gone through so much, but he is growing into an amazing young man who stands out from the crowd because of the person he has become. He learnt from his experiences and ran with the positives, leaving all the negatives far, far behind.
My son then proceeded to pull out of his backpack, Buzz and Woody from “Toy Story”. His favourite toys from his childhood! Again I tried to fight back the tears as I remembered all our adventures together! So here we were, all these years later, with Buzz and Woody at high school! How amazing, I thought, how life goes full circle. These guys got us through so many ups and downs when he was little, and now at this celebration of growing up, here we were again!
Before we left home to go to this night, my son picked up his backpack which secretly held Buzz and Woody and out of nowhere we heard Buzz say, “Look at my impressive wing span!” The batteries still worked after all these years! My son was disappointed that the surprise was spoilt and I now knew what he had selected to remind me of his childhood, but instead of being disappointed, I burst into laughter! Deep down inside, I knew it would be Buzz and Woody in that bag!
Well Buzz, we have seen your “impressive wing span” many times, but now as I look at my son with so much love, awe and pride, I watch, as he launches his own “impressive wing span”, and starts to soar.