They sport their affiliation with their clothing or jewelry. Is their necklace hand-crafted from organic seed beads? Does it boast a little silver Tiffany tag? Or is it made from the macaroni noodles a toddler strung together? It’s a little more subtle, but it’s similar to spying a colored bandana or a tattooed area code on a forearm.
They’ve got territory that’s theirs and territory that isn’t. Elite preschools vs. in-home daycares vs.baby-wearing to work through the toddler years. Janie and Jack vs. Old Navy vs.Thrift Stores. Twistars vs. swim class at the Y vs. catching frogs and jumping in mud puddles on nature preserves. Whole foods vs. fast foods vs. Neighborhood Sustainability Gardens. There is not much crossing paths between groups.
They’re part of a family. Not a family they came from, but a family they chose. They count on their crew for survival – to keep them sane, to keep them grounded, to keep them feeling like they’re doing things right. They’re following the rules of the group, even if the rules are stupid. It feels good to pretend they know what they’re doing.
They’ve got intimidation tactics. They’re posting photos of their homemade baby food and organic veggies. They’re writing angry forum posts about how your child is going to have life-long hip injuries from that baby carrier you’re using or listing all the reasons their child is safer than yours in the car. Or, they walk past you in in the store flaunting their children’s goldfish, chicken nugget, and oreo cookie diet.
They fight over stupid shit that feels worthy of a life or death altercation. Things like breastfeeding and sleep training and when to introduce what kind of solids. Things like time-outs, t.v. time and, and the best way to throw a birthday party. Their “family” honor is at stake.
Someone’s bound to get hurt – whether it’s gang wars or mom wars – if someone messes with one of their family members. Parents might not always walk down the street in packs, but they most definitely appear in swarms online.
Here are some common gangs in your area and tips about how they can be identified:
MOTTO: “Feed them farro”.
GANG SIGN: The Gyan Mudra. Alternate: Connecting fingers with thumb to form a circle, which symbolizes a multitude of things such as, the Sun and Moon, a whole (as in Whole 30) and a “zero” (as in zero preservatives or artificial ingredients).
TERRITORY: Yoga studios, local natural food stores, baby-wearing meetings, the great outdoors (particularly in non-landscaped settings).
ATTIRE: Rainbow colored (as found naturally in the real rainbow, not as in artificially colored rainbows), earthy green, tans and ochre colors required. Paisley pattern allowed. Second-hand preferred. Beaded bracelets and crystal amulets as accessories.
PRIZE ITEMS: Organic, all-natural, baby carrier (the kind that doesn’t ruin delicate baby hips), crystal body deodorant, nutritional yeast, essential oils (especially frankincense), heirloom tomatoes, any book by Dr. Sears, crocheted teacup coozies.
QUESTIONABLE ACTIVITIES: Eating chocolate that is not at least 60% cacao or that is not fair trade. Letting their child cry it out.
KEY LINGO: Sustainable, Free-range, Antioxidant, Breath, Spiritual, Attachment.
DIALECTIC USAGE OF THE PHRASE “IN SEASON”: Used in reference to crops.
MOTTO: Go Get ‘Em!
GANG SIGN: A loose hug where no one actually touches accompanied with a fake smile and a slow, subtlety judgmental sweep of the eyes down, then back up.
TERRITORY: The pool at the high-priced gym, the benches in the high school football stadium, all-inclusive resorts on the right beaches in Mexico.
ATTIRE: Color coordinated outfits showcasing this year’s name-brand fashions. Preferably fashions not available in stores but purchased from an in-home hosted party. Perfectly coiffed hair, well-applied makeup, groomed brows.
PRIZE ITEMS: Ceramic Starbucks thermos, Current Books Focusing on Achievement and Success (such as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or The 80/20 Principle), Beta Brand Yoga Pants.
QUESTIONABLE ACTIVITIES: Pinteresting incorrectly, not enrolling children in a minimum of 37 activities per year, kids attending less than elite preschools, overall not being good enough at everything.
KEY LINGO: Cost, Achievement, Production, Accomplish, Meta-cognition.
DIALECTIC USAGE OF THE PHRASE “IN SEASON”: Used in reference to clothing.
GANG SIGN: A straight up middle finger accompanied with a wry grin. Because this crew does not give a fuck.
TERRITORY: At the bar (with kids in tow), or at home (formula feeding, or kids running amok since they are not enrolled in activities).
ATTIRE: The same jeans you saw them in last year and a t-shirt from a 5k they ran in 2008. Most likely also wearing the resting bitchface expression.
PRIZE ITEMS: Books (any kind), Beer, Coffee, Large bags of popcorn, Ball jar filled with ice and moonshine.
QUESTIONABLE ACTIVITIES: Formula feeding. Oversharing. Going out in public after not bathing kids for over 7 days, and/or not showering self for over 3 days.
KEY LINGO: Damn, Shit, Ass.
DIALECTIC USAGE OF THE PHRASE “IN SEASON”: Used in reference to seasonal brews on tap.
Which gang do you affiliate with? Share if you dare, just watch out for the rat-a-tat-tats that might come in response.