Pool Chats

The other day I took the three-year-old to his swimming lesson. Within moments I’d struck up a conversation with the other two mums as we watched our kids flounder in the water.

So what did we talk about? Let’s see.

  1. Trusted truisms

This conversation was designed to engender feelings of warmth and closeness between the participants. Women do this all the time in conversation.

Mum 1: Child A is obedient and trustworthy, Child B is stubborn, whereas Child C is a loner.
Me (soothingly): They all come out with their own personalities. No telling what you’re going to get. (This comment is a sure-fire winner. I’ve used it many times before.)
Mum 2: So true.

  1. Brags

This is about proving that one is an experienced parent who is not easily spooked.

Mum 1: Oh look, Child A is sinking under the water.  (Hollow laugh).  He’ll be fine, I’m sure.
Mum 2: Course he will.
(Child A sinks downwards. Instructor pulls him out of water.)
Me: That’s how they learn.

Alan De Botton, as far as I remember, claimed that almost all interactions are about status:  who has it, who wants it. Certainly with mum-type conversations, there is a lot of subtle bragging to determine pecking order. Men, I think, are quite familiar with this kind of nuance.

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