Tribe

If you’re a parent in your twenties or thirties and you have any kind of disposable income, you probably own a piece of Superdry clothing. I own two Superdry hoodies and two t-shirts and wear them constantly as a staple of my ‘pseudo with-it parent’ wardrobe. I bought dh a Superdry polo for his birthday and he wears it all the time. I abandoned ‘trends’ and ‘fashion’ long ago and I’m not normally one for designer labels, but Superdry stuff is cool.

As we wandered around Center Parcs I noticed that tons of parents of a similar age to us wearing Superdry clothing. It was almost a uniform. Anyone that didn’t feel part of the gang could go and buy a Superdry item from the on-site shops.

Trouble is I’m not sure that harassed parent is really the market that they chase. The Bluewater store is always full of teenage kids, pressuring their parents into buying hoodies with faux-Japanese/Americana slogans on them. Their advertising is full of wholesome yet sexy teens and early twentysomethings pouting moodily.

I pout moodily but I’m old and because I’m tired and fed-up of patiently explaining the same concept OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN and refereeing slanging matches between the girls: “YOU’RE NOT  MY BEST FRIEND!” “I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU” “Mummyyyyy G/R’s not talking to meeeee”.

Before we left on Friday afternoon I noticed a subtle change as lots of teenagers turned up wearing Hollister and Jack Wills stuff. I went in the Hollister shop In Bluewater once and thought I’d gone blind. Their shops are designed to look like surf shacks and are dark and moody. They spritz the clothes on display with a distinctive scent every so often. Unable to distinguish a t-shirt from a pair of pants in the gloom, I stumbled out and breathed in the comparatively fresh air of the Starbucks next door. Hollister has a queue outside at weekends and during school holidays and there isn’t even a sale on. Madness. I’m about fifteen years too old for Jack Wills and I don’t talk like a rah. A rah, you ask? What’s a rah? Go to South West London on any given Saturday afternoon and all you’ll hear is this: “RAH RAH RAH. YAH. RAH. YAH. RAH” and they ALL wear Jack Wills.

When the Superdry tribe was replaced with the Hollister/Jack Wills tribe, I knew it was time to go home.

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Wanna be in my gang?

I don’t like gangs. I don’t like cliques. I don’t like ‘Here come the girls’, loose women, hen night whooping and hollering. I think all-female workplaces are a Very Bad Idea and I don’t just mean the syncing of periods. In the immortal words of Frasier Crane, women shouldn’t be allowed to talk to one another. I’ve dabbled in all female-gangs before and it generally Doesn’t End Well.

However, I now find myself in a gang. Moreover, according to dh I am in fact the leader of said gang. As da kidz say WTF?*

As your children get older they have the temerity to start choosing their own friends. I now understand why my parents would occasionally get a bit concerned about me having yet another best friend. Or rather, the ensuing devastation that would be caused by me and said BFF falling out approximately two weeks later.  Luckily the girls have pretty decent taste and have accumulated a nice circle of friends. Though friendship come playdates, through playdates come birthday parties and through parties coms social events with parents but without children. This means that dh and I spend quite a lot of time with people who we wouldn’t have otherwise met if it weren’t for the children.

As I stood at yet another birthday party at the weekend, chatting with the usual crowd of parents and offspring (and very nice they all are too), I was struck by the fact that I’d seen three of four of the families several times at different parties and events over the last few months. It’s got to the point now where the presence of a different family feels a bit….odd. If the girls go to a party and some or all of their core gang aren’t present I feel (my favourite word du jour coming up) discombobulated.

When the girls started nursery I noticed that some of the parents already gravitated towards each other and I felt that we were being (unintentionally) excluded. Now I understand. I’m now a member of the Little Stars clique. We’re the feisty, shouty, rebellious parents that kick up a fuss when we’re not happy. When we mention that our children are meeting up for extra-curricular events you can see carers’ eyes widening and/or rolling (impressive if you can do both at the same time) and they know that Things Will be Discussed.

Dh and I were recently discussing the fact that the girls have added a couple of extra children to their friendship group. “Are you going to let them in our gang?” He asked me. I scoffed for a few seconds and asked in genuine amazement “What do you mean? It’s not our gang?”. He grinned and said “It is so your gang”. I thought about it and I can’t disagree with him really. It’s a terrible burden and one I’ll have to learn to shoulder but I’ll get through it.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and bulk order wine, houmous and carrot sticks for our next round of ‘meet the guinea pigs’ playdates.

*I don’t think da yoof say any of this stuff