Today’s Washington Post has this completely absurd story about a woman in DC that has turned a neighborhood playgroup into a $300,000 a year business.
I totally get the desire of parents with young kids to meet and connect with other parents with similar aged kids. Been there, done that. But we didn’t need to pay $8000 a year per kid for some friends. When we moved to the DC area my wife put out a message on the local homeschooler support list about wanting to meet others and before long she was running a homeschooler playgroup with 100 families in it. For free. With all volunteer labor. With a rather diverse set of parents and kids spanning the gamut from liberal to conservative, from Christian to Atheist, from families living in very nice large homes to families living in double-wides. It really wasn’t that big of deal. I guess I should be mad that I didn’t see the opportunity to fully fund my early retirement by charging for access to the playgroup.
“It’s really hard making new parent friends,” Marsh said. “It’s like dating.”
But I’m not mad. I’m laughing my ass off at the idea of these well-to-do parents that are so overwhelmed by parenting that they think $8000 a year is a fair price for a 3-hour a day playgroup. Have our social skills fallen so far that people can’t see a parent at the park or a coffee shop and just walk up and say hi, chat for a few minutes, and if they seem normal arrange to meet at the park or a McDonald’s Playland later in the week? I mean that’s how the rest of us out here in the real world do it, right? Or more likely today, there is a Facebook group for neighborhood parents and everything is organized and publicized on Facebook. For free, or maybe for coffee and donut money.
It also strikes me that this group is actually not particularly good for the kids. How diverse is a playgroup with a $2000 a quarter pricetag going to be? I’m reminded of the rise of the Junior Cotillion in Loudoun County, VA - parents making sure their daughters were schooled in the genteel arts that would land them an upper class husband. Washington DC is a pretty diverse place, it’s one of its selling points. Well, not in this neighborhood maybe.
Of course, they are looking to expand into Chevy Chase and other enclaves of rich people in DC.