Taking your kids to the playground requires a Navy SEAL-like set of skills to handle all manner of challenges — like the extra, unseen limbs they mysteriously develop to keep you from getting even a layer of warm clothing on them. You handle all of it because you know it’s coming and you plan for it.
But you know what you also know is coming, yet even awesome you can’t plan for? The judgemental parents you’ll encounter there — the ones who exist in parallel parenting universes they know, with complete certainty, to be far superior to whatever backwards hellscape you apparently crawled out of to darken their day. Like, for example, these 9 jerk faces.
The Uptight Food Nazi
These people can smell gluten from across a crowded park. Handing your kid a sandwich? You’d better be able to both pronounce every ingredient and be able to source it, hopefully back to the organic small family farm where is was plucked just days ago from the warm bosom of mother earth. You will be grilled, much like the dry and unappetizing veggie burgers this yahoo brings to BBQs.
The Fashion Victim
Not only does this parent look like they just stepped from the pages of Vogue, their children are also perfectly styled and wear shoes that clearly cost more than your entire outfit. There will be pitying sidelong glances, cast over the rim of steaming cups of bone broth. Your Sunday attire is essentially making them wonder if they should move before you bring their property values down any further.
The Safety Officer
This fellow knows everything about child safety. He’ll let you know, loudly and forcefully, how you should have eyes / hands on your kid at every moment. He is happy to regale you with horrifying tales of children he’s heard of who’ve been kidnapped, hit by cars, bit by dogs, squirrels, cats and ducks, all while ignoring his own little Colt Cabana performing flying guillotine takedowns from the top of the monkey bars.
The Super Nanny
Known by her youth and faintly European accent, this lady is never still. All the children are hers. At the faintest sign of tears or conflict she’s in the mix like some stoic hybrid of Mary Poppins and Batman. She’s at the kid’s’ eye-level, talking in quiet forceful tones, saying mysterious things that you can’t hear — strange European baby-whispering incantations that are frankly terrifying in their effectiveness. Then she’s back on the sidelines and the cold searing shark eyes she turns to you cause you to question your entire worth as a parent.
The “Unintentional” Racist
If your child looks ethnically different than you in even the slightest way, the “unintentional” racist parent will be unable to contain her curiosity. Like some deleted scene from an all-female reboot of Gran Torino, you’ll be subject to many prying and deeply personal questions about you and your mate. She wants to know if your kids are adopted (“Poor things, was it drugs?”), if your family is mixed-race (“So progressive!”) and won’t stop until she’s satisfied that she has a good story to post on Facebook when she gets home.
The Child Psychologist
Woe be to you, should your kid behave oddly in the aisles of Target (which is basically always). This wingnut comes in hot with a chirpy “Oh, is she on the spectrum? I have a niece blah blah blah.” If your kid isn’t on the spectrum, Dr. Autism diagnoses him, and urges you to see someone. If your kid is on the spectrum, she’ll give you a pitying, self-satisfied look and continue on her way with the smug assurance that she’s a goddamn genius.
Similar to the self-taught child psychologist, this individual has oodles of tips to dispense when your kid is mid-meltdown, when it is basically the least helpful thing a person can do. Your urge may be to hand your kid to them, wish them luck and head to the nearest tavern. This is generally not advisable.
The Baby Pusher
“How many kids do you have? Just one? That’s a shame. Don’t you worry they’ll get lonely or be socially awkward? Are you planning on having any more kids? Oh! You really should. How old is your wife? She’s still young! You could totally have more. No. Listen to me. You really need to have more kids. Right now. Go home and put another baby in your wife! It was so nice meeting you!”
This parent has been dreaming of catching a predator for years. She knows they’re everywhere. Even here, right now. If you are a single Dad, hanging out with your kid at the park, this parent’s furious scrutinizing looks will have you calling out to your kid every thirty seconds. “Good job, Kyle! You’re such a good slider! I’m so proud you’re my son Kyle! Yeah! Good swinging Kyle! You’re the best son a dad could possibly want, Kyle!” If you catch her staring at you while talking on the phone, you and Kyle may want to get out of there.