So you’ve decided to sign your darling up for a sports team. Unless you have a chauffeur, a nanny, or a flux capacitor to split yourself in two, you’re going to need a mom posse. And if you do have those things, what the hell are you doing? Go get yourself a nap, a merlot, and a pedicure.
In the land of youth sports, it’s the luck of the draw who you get to hang with for the season. You need to swim in the pool you paid for, so to speak. The kicker? You’ve never needed help more. There will come a time when older brother needs to go in one direction, your Pele-in-the-making needs to get to the play-offs in the other direction, dad is trapped at work . . . in Dhubai, and the cat is puking out its pancreas. But this situation goes from doom to doable if you have a mom posse to fall back on to at least take Pele to soccer. You’re on your own with the puking feline.
The secret to the posse is to choose wisely and develop it early.
1. Preparation starts at home. The first practice is not the time to be rocking your best boots, 7 For All Mankinds, and perfect blow-out. It makes you look like you don’t really need the help. If that is the case, rock it out, Sister, but if you do need help, you might want to dial down the mom glam for now.
But don’t let the pendulum swing too far the other way. Holey pajama pants and grungy slippers gives off the impression you feed your kids PopTarts for dinner, your entire family is sharing one towel, and most importantly, you don’t have your shizz together enough to transport someone else’s precious babies. Remember, the posse is all about reciprocity. Aim for approachable – best yoga pants, clean top, and neat ponytail. We’re not suggesting being Ms. Fakety-Fake, just don’t let it all hang out until, let’s say, practice six.
2. Get to the first practice early. Posses are for carpooling so safety comes first. Watch the other parents roll up in the parking lot. If a driver doesn’t at least slow down to 5 mph before opening those minivan sliding doors to eject her spawn, then you might want to mark her off the potential chauffeur list.
3. Follow the herd. When everyone is sitting together like ducks in a row, line your chair up too, Buttercup. If the group decides that selling blood is the best way to pay for the team’s new warm-ups, roll up a sleeve and offer a vein. On second thought, you may want to run, but in most cases now is not the time to be the Lone Ranger. Your kid’s not the only one who joined the team. Every time you make an effort, you’re upping your posse potential.
4. Start chatting parents up to see where they live. Carpooling only makes your life easier if it doesn’t take you a tank of gas to take the extra darlings home. Try not to be creepy scoping out addresses, though. If you can’t ask where someone lives without triggering a background check, work that smartphone. Take a picture of the team and show it to your potential posse member, “Look how cute this is!” If she just grunts, consider the screening process to be in full swing and move on. If she coos, say, “Hey, are you on Facebook? I could tag you in it.” If you become friends on Facebook, you are golden! You not only have access to location, you can make sure they don’t participate in demonic goat square dancing . . . or at least they’re discreet enough not to post about it.
WARNING: Do not scroll through and “Like” every one of her pictures because you’ll be detouring through Creepytown. Remember, you were trying to avoid that?
5. Work your kid. This will go a whole lot smoother if you correlate your connections with your kid’s buddies. Don’t fall into the trap of setting up a carpool with the second baseman who wipes his boogers on your son’s glove. Building friendships is good for your child and good for you and nothing builds friendships faster than sleepovers. Suck it up and send out an invite. Just make sure your bathrooms are clean and you remember to feed the kids. Passing out bananas for dinner doesn’t put you at the top of any posse lists.
6. Be the posse member you want to attract. Offer to help a mom you see in distress, carry that über complete first aid kit so you can save the day, create the hang out spot for the kids on your snazzy waterproof picnic blanket, hand puppies out from the back of a van . . . wait, scratch that last one. Just be a team player.
7. Send up a flare. If subtle action fails, don’t be afraid to beg. In fact, lay out your situation in an email or surely you could work it into a conversation during that 3 hours on the sidelines. It’s time to tamp down that pride, put on your big girl panties, and ask for exactly what you need. The people who respond when they know your chips are down are just the type of people you want in your life any way.
Bottom line: Mom posses make all these extra-curriculars “posse”-ble. (Yeah, insert rim shot here.) So get out there and make a carpool buddy today! Friends don’t let friends drive both ways to practice two days in a row!
–Ellen and Erin