The Very Weird World of Playground Parenting

Going to the playground with my daughter is always fun. She has a great time running around, picking up dirt, sliding down the slide and petting random dogs and becoming best friends with kids she's never met before.

That's all great, until the parents have to look up from their kids and exchange pleasantries. As an introvert and a socially incapable ‘adult’, this is a minefield of potential and likely soul-crushing embarrassment.

It starts with "How old is she?" and continues on with the usual small talk about the weather, where in the neighbourhood you're from and, how long I've lived in Vancouver (my accent gives me away as a foreigner).

This social situation is almost as awkward as dating. If I'm talking to a Mum, she might think I'm being friendly to flirt, which, of course I'm not, and wouldn’t know how even if I was. I abandoned any learned skills for talking to women the second I started dating my now-wife, in a similar fashion to instantly forgetting any and all algebra once my pencil hit the desk at the end of my last school exam.

So do I just ignore her and continue looking directly at my daughter and nowhere else? I don't want to seem rude or standoffish. Should I introduce myself?

What if it's a Dad? Sure we might get along and our kids are clearly having a great time together. We're now on a first name basis, but how do you even arrange meeting up again? Are we best friends now? Do you even get new friends after university or is that your lot? Who asks who for their details? Should I act coy or insist on them giving me a call like a proper grown up probably would?

Perhaps I should get a business card that just says 'Dad' and my number. Let's have coffee, but we have to bring the kids so it's not weird. Or is it weird now because we only talk to fellow parents and haven't had a conversation about non-child related topics for years?

Help.

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