How to decipher parental playground tribes

Dear Parent, We're looking forward to your child joining us this year. Enclosed are our facility's policies and procedures, and this handy guide to other parents you'll meet in the playground.

Tribe: Helicopter Fleet

Traditional costume: Daypack for Band-Aids, tissues, snacks.

The rough-and-tumble of the playground.
The rough-and-tumble of the playground. Photo: Getty Images

Traditional greeting: "Just a second: my kid is about to climb that play equipment and I haven't checked it for entrapment risks yet."

User guide: The Helicopter sees danger everywhere. Before having children they may have been lawyers. Or safety inspectors. Many have given up jobs to ensure their children's survival. If they do work their children's minders will be left with long lists of dos and don'ts. Can be useful when you really do need a Band-Aid.

Tribe: Daddy Cool

Traditional costume: T-shirt from a band that was a shortlived spin-off of an alternative '90s act. Satchel for film script/novel-in-progress/business plan for crowd-funded start-up.

Traditional greeting: "I found this awesome new coffee shop that does an amazing piccolo latte."

User guide: Often seen Instagramming a cool piece of street art en route to the playground, while the child of this carefree creative is dangling precariously from the wrong end of some play equipment. Daddy Cools can be worth cultivating so you'll know the hip new bars.


Tribe: Vegan Earth Mother

Traditional costume: Hippie skirt, tribal African tote bag for carrying cut-up carrots and a copy of the Natural Childhood.

Traditional greeting: "We're sending Tyler to Montessori. It's quite expensive and there are only five other children, but we think it will really help him discover himself and learn how to get along with all his fellow human beings."

User guide: Rarely seen without her children. May initially form a strong bond with Helicopter, until Helicopter realises Earth Mother's reliance on homemade lice treatment of eucalyptus and lavender oils leaves her children with new infestations after every playdate.

Tribe: Einstein's Parents

Traditional costume: Smug expression and doctor's report that their child is in the 99th percentile for everything.

Traditional greeting: "We're worried Celeste won't be challenged this year. She's finished all the Harry Potter books and the rest of her class are still struggling with their sight words."

User guide: You'll hear how the genius gene runs in the family. Mum was reading before she was walking, dad was doing calculus before he was out of nappies. You'll have little chance to befriend Einstein's Parents because they'll be busy dashing from one after-school enrichment program to another.

Tribe: High Flyer Dad

Traditional costume: Business suit. Often carrying chip on shoulder about the money paid to his first wife and her private-school educated teenagers.

Traditional greeting: "Does the playground have Wi-Fi ? I have to send a contract to London."

User guide: An infrequent schoolyard visitor, if High Flyer Dad appears his smartphone will be glued to his ear as his current wife, remotely guides him to the pick-up points. His children may initially be reluctant to leave with him as they have trouble recognising him not having seen him during daylight hours for several months. A rare playground species because he's always at work.

We ask you to please respect all of these tribes: you're likely to belong to most of them at some point of your parenting career.

Kath Kenny is a freelance writer.