Last month’s column was really heavy. It was also polarizing, bold and self-revealing. It dealt with abortion and I highly recommend you read it (even if you don’t agree with what I wrote). The column is online at www.cnyhealth.com. In the search menu, just type my name.
This month, I’m letting the pendulum swing.
I’m writing about something almost every parent can agree on — how hard it is to make friends after you have children.
I am fortunate to have numerous close friends whom I can’t imagine my life without. However, I am geographically separated from many of them. At this point in my life, even a 30-minute drive can feel overwhelming and out of reach. A plane ride can feel impossible.
Despite the distances, my old friends are a great emotional support network. But I, like many parents I know, lack a local support network. So many of us don’t have close relationships with people who live close to us. Said another way, we lack a tangible, extended community.
Under normal circumstances, finding that community is tough. The pandemic has made it that much harder. Overscheduled lives have made it harder still. Making new friends is like a strange sort of dating that no one ever prepared you for. Most of us are pretty bad at it and could use some help.
If you’re a parent who wants to make new friends who live in your zip code, look no further than this column. It’s chock full of terrible advice. It contains pickup lines you should never use to spark a friendship between you and another parent. Hopefully, these lines give you a laugh and inspire you to put yourself out there.
If you’re a parent who is looking to trying to make friends while your kids are playing together, try these terrible pickup lines:
• Your child seems to be equally good at [insert sport] as my child. Perhaps we should nurture a healthy relationship by letting them compete in the sport of princes. Are you interested in going bowling with us?
• Your kid has a cat shirt on. My family has four cats! We possibly love them too much. Would you and your child like to come over and hang out with the cats next weekend? We’ll be there too!
• Our kids seem to enjoy wrestling on the ground together. Would you like to let them do that in my backyard while we enjoy snacks and small talk?
• My kid heard from a friend who heard from another friend that your kid has a crush on my kid. Do you want to take them out for ice cream while we slyly listen to their conversations?
• My kid talks about your kid a lot. Maybe we should see if they are ready to take their friendship to the next level of friendship. Maybe we should let them hang out in person.
• I see your kid is a playground daredevil, just like mine. Do you want to take them to some place full of padding and trampolines so they can show off to each other in a less dangerous environment?
If you’re a parent who is looking to hang out with other parents solo, try these terrible pickup lines:
• While watching this riveting lacrosse practice, I’ve noticed you smile a lot at people you don’t seem to know while pushing your hair behind your ear. I do that too. Should we get coffee sometime?
• I couldn’t help but notice the sweet hybrid you rolled up to this baseball practice in. Would you like to pull invasive species from the creekwalk with me next Saturday?
• Our kids have been playing all of these sports that demand a crazy amount of equipment. I bet your garage and basement look like mine. Would you like to go halfsies on a dumpster with me? I bet you have a lot of crap to get rid of too. It would be fun to help each other sort and load!
• Our kids share a music stand in orchestra. Are you an artist too? If you like singer-songwriter songs, I have Spotify premium. Maybe you can come over sometime and listen to sad songs and drink tea.
• I noticed you don’t yell at your kid or the referees during sporting events. I also noticed you talk to your kid like they’re a human after the game is over. I like your respectful style. Want to go for a walk on the canal path with me sometime?
• Isn’t this a great book fair? It’s way better than the last one. My kid spent $8 on an eraser that was shaped like a hamburger but smelled like cotton candy last year. Anyway, my kid totally loves that title your kid just picked up. Maybe we have stuff in common too. Guess we will have to hang out to find out!
All mom jokes aside, making new friends as a grownup is really hard. It involves putting yourself out there in a way you likely haven’t in a long time.
Next time a parent comes up to you with an awkward opening line, cut them some slack. Or, even better, be the parent that strikes up a conversation with that parent that looks a little lonely.
We all want the same things for ourselves and our kids—things like love, acceptance, kindness and a sense of community. If we are willing to put those things out there, we might be really happy about what comes back to us.