Membership Revoked – by Justyna

30 Sep

This week’s word ‘membership’ has left me feeling sad. So for this post I am throwing myself a pity party: the clubs I am no longer a member of…

The Boys Club

Ever since high school I have had, what was then termed, the buddy syndrome. Lots of mates, no boyfriends. This syndrome continued into university (well, with some amendments), meaning I had it best of both worlds, my female friends and my buddies. When I would get a bit overwhelmed with my female company, I had the comfort zone of frank, brash, straight-up dude talk with no over-analysis and additional dramas. It was excellent. Here, I have noticed, there are no true male-female friendships. And I am not talking about the idea of the ‘male best-friend’ (because that is debatable), but rather the fact that guys just don’t hang out with girls for the sake of good company. The division of roles and stereotypes are just too deeply seeded. It’s pretty devastating. I watch in pubs and restaurants how big groups of students meet to hang, the women on the one side of the table, the guys on the other. When there is interaction, it’s in the form of coquettish giggling and hair tugging versus gander-like anecdote telling. No actual mutual conversations. These mutual conversations appear to exist at a later stage when people are coupled-up, are a bit older and there are no longer any under-lying contexts. Sad really. So I miss the boys club, the Veses who I cannot call for a regular chin-wag, the Anthonies who I cannot meet with for some beers, the Rosses for a spot of squash and canyoning…

 The Adventure Club

This club I joined whilst at uni. I remember joining because I loved the bush and wanted to spend more time in it with people who loved it just as much as I did. I also found guys in shorts and sandals, with strong-calf muscles, super hot, and the adventure club was a breeding ground for them. Some of my best uni moments are adventure club related. And some of the mates I made there are still mates today. I guess when you spend considerable time 15 meters underground, with a lead torch stuck to your head, in the pit of some wild Janolan cave, solid friendships will form. Aside from the hairy canoyning trips, the caving, the crazy canoe polo competitions and mountain-bike riding escapades, I was surrounded by people who really knew how to participate in a club. To be real members. To share god-awful chores, to cook-together, to make joint-decisions without bickering (well, not too much anyway), to pitch tents together and share each other’s loads. Sigh. I miss it a lot. It made you a better person when functioning in a group.

The Craft Club

Oh how I miss those Saturdays of excellent conversations and even more excellent craft projects. To be part of the craft club was really something. Nothing else would matter on that day, no boyfriends, no chores, no essay responsibilities, no dinners with parents, no agonising track-work. The once-a-month crafty heaven always left me feeling a bit spesh for having so many crafty friends, with such excellent crafty ideas and most importantly such wonderful chatter. There are some efforts being made here to kick-start a Polish replica, but I am finding that some of the potential craft club members just ‘ain’t feelin’ the power and the magic. Their craft abilities, admittedly, far exceed mine but the sheer desire to be part of a club is simply missing.

The Potential Mothers Group

I’ve never been into the idea of a mothers group. A bunch of random women meeting up, drawn together by the fact that they happen to have a kid. Big wow. So they can exchange child developmental stories and think themselves special for being mums. Except that they are not that special because there happens to be a whole heap of women out there who also have kids and are not members of any such groups. Instead I fostered the romantic version of hanging out with my friends who also happened to pop out sprogs, meeting up just as we did pre-popping but now with an additional subject matter to cover. A natural evolvement of a mothers group without officially forming or joining one. A lot of my close friends in Sydney are now mums, and it makes me sad that I cannot be a part of this group, in an effortless, ‘just-pop-round’ kind of way, where we can share experiences because we’ve known each other for ages and really be into each other’s kids, because, well, we like the mums.

I assumed that this would happen naturally here too. But it hasn’t. After popping-out Kazek I experienced my first proper cultural-shock. I don’t seem to fit the standard Polish-mum bill. I’m not overprotective, fussy, I don’t worry enough, I let my kid run around the playground shoe less (that’s a horror story right there for the regular Polish mummy), I don’t scold sufficiently nor do I prohibit jungle-gym shenanigans. I let Kazek sit on wet sand in the sand-pit, I let him run around fast without telling him to slow-down, I don’t let the grandmas control his sausage intake and oh-and-behold, I have a pact with Michal that he has as much say in the whole process as I do (again, not a wise move if you want to be considered a serious Polish matriarch). As a result, out of the small pool of friends who have kids, there is an even smaller pool of gems who are laid-back enough to accept my ways. To these I hold on to, but the numbers are small. No way near enough to form a solid group.

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4 Responses to “Membership Revoked – by Justyna”

  1. Ayesha Budd October 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Hey Justyna,

    I feel for you, I recognise it.. well, except the sprog part, not part of that club in any way, shape, or form yet.

    It’s not just Poland.

  2. Tabitha October 3, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Great post dude. Got me feeling all nostalgic not only for the salad days of craft club, but the stories of your adventure club antics. Aah, canoe polo: still one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard of.

  3. bmktaylor October 4, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Aah, the halcion days of Craft. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of. We struggle to keep it going with people constantly coming and going, but it does continue.

    I think I had romantic visions of mothers’ group too Justyna. I have some things in common with my MG buddies and lots of things (both parenting-related and otherwise) not in common. I have really come to care about them all despite our differences, so I know I’m lucky to have that. When I do see my friends who have kids, we struggle to get a word in in-between chatterings from the kids and attending to their needs. Can be frustrating. Have just been reading a book about ethnopaediatrics (parenting across cultures) and that’s fascinating to read about hunter-gatherer tribes and contemporary ‘developed’ and ‘undeveloped’ nations. That sort of thing – some of the science behind childhood – is what I’d rather be talking about, rather than how to control your kid, which can be a focus. I wish we could have mum’d together!

  4. kshyva October 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    @ Ayesha – I guess the Dutch aren’t that keen on clubs? It seems here that the local scene is so impoverished – no running clubs, no book clubs, no swimming clubs. It’s really frustrating, especially when you want to meet people who are into similar things and you’re no longer a student.

    @ Tabitha – I still laugh at myself for attempting on several occasions to do an ‘eskimo roll’ – actually rolling underwater with your kayak. Never got the hang of it. It was like downy heaven.

    @ Beth – see, that kind of conversation would interest me too! Like a MG group that talked about cool shit, and not potty training!

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