I took the boys to the water park in Whittier today - a spur of the moment trip that just sounded fun. It didn't turn out to be as much fun as I had hoped. You see, there were a few other families there, and unfortunately, they didn't have anything like the same standards for their kids as I do for mine.
Initially I was happy to meet the mother camped out on the bench next to me. She is also pregnant (with her fourth) and due just a few weeks after me. She also mentioned, while introducing her children, that they all were named after saints. "Great!" I thought, "they're probably a nice Catholic family!"
Well, (nominally) Catholic they may be, but they certainly weren't nice.
The mother was friendly, but her language! And I hadn't brought a book or a magazine, so I couldn't be "occupied" and discourage her chatter. A bigger problem, though, was the way her children treated mine. Jonathan came running back to me in tears every few minutes because one of her children had thrown something at him, or kicked water in his face, or told him that he couldn't play. Three year olds just don't understand this kind of thing - he was so incredibly sad about it and there wasn't a good way for me to explain it to him. The frustrating thing was that the other mom sat and watched this all happen, and all she ever did was scream "stop it!" at her kids, along with various swear words. As I'm sure you can imagine, they paid no attention whatsoever.
We ended up leaving early, which also made Jonathan sad.
I came home sad about the whole encounter, and very grateful for the good friends we do have. I am so glad I'm not trying to navigate a generic community mom's group. There is much to be said for shared values in choosing your and your childrens' friends.