Where do You fit in?
My children are still at little school; a sparkly, rainbow-filled land of innocence, sweet crayoned pictures, skipping ropes and toy dinosaurs, My Little Ponies and Transformers, frantic screaming and it’s-the-end-of-the-world-so-I-won’t-let-go-of-your-skirt crying, jumping, hopping, play fights, clapping games, stressed out teachers… and then there’s the parents.
Oh, the parents!
No matter how we try not to stereotype others, some (actually make that most) mums and dads just cannot help but fall slap bang in the middle of the following five groups, hanging out around/as far away from/on the precipice of the primary school gates.
For sure there are many other categories to add to this very generalised mix, but this is an article, not an essay. So let’s examine the most obvious. Oh, and let me know which group you like to flock to/run away from at lightening speed…
Aka. The Clique/’It’ Crowd/Mothers’ Meeting (yes, the latter may sound sexist but at my child’s school this really is the reality!)
They shout their business about like they’d air their washing. Whether you want to or not, you now know all about their kids – including their umpteen new age middle names, discipline procedures (Flynn-Jo has to go on The Naughty Step for 13 minutes and 3 seconds, whereas his sister Bobo-Paris can self soothe her tantrum in just 53 seconds), and holiday shenanigans (Tegan-Fenugreek won the karaoke competition over half term at the kids club in the hotel in Tenerife, don’tcha know? And Kai is now heading towards his black belt in karate – yes, really, you’d better believe it at just the tender age of 6).
These guys are out of the car first, making a beeline for the playground come diagonal rain or sunshine. They can’t be left out of the latest gossip now, can they?
With The Family, you’re in or you’re out. There’s no halfway house. And if you’re not in, no, they jolly well won’t say hello to you in a supermarket in town… even if you do park your cars next to each other every flippin’ day. It’s all or nothing when it comes to The Fam, you see. Just like those Friday nights out from way back when with your mates at the local pub, miss just one coffee morning and you’ll be the subject of gossip at the next one.
Actually, no, go to the loo and you’ll be the subject of gossip at this one!
The Perpetually Frazzled
Always in a flap, straightening unkempt hair that’s already tumbling out of pony tails, applying lippy as they reverse park into the very last available ‘space’ better designed for a third of a Smart Car than a Mercedes MPV, eating breakfast on the go – one dad even walks up to the gates from his house which is a 1 minute stroll away complete with china coffee mug… regardless of the fact that H2o is pissing down into it, sealing envelopes for school trip money as they march… coins rolling all over the playground and notes taking to the skies like kites, dragging comfort blankets in the mud… and still wearing last night’s pyjama bottoms (the parent in charge that is, not the kid).
There are many parallels between The Perpetually Frazzled and The Late Ones, we could say. But The Frazzleds are always there on time. That’s the key.
Just maybe not in the best shape…
You could wonder how if they can get there on time, they can’t then also manage to get up ten minutes earlier to run a toothbrush over their teeth, to make the BLT sarnie at home as opposed to using the wall surrounding the school as a makeshift worktop, to take the VIP office call before or after the big school drop event so we don’t all have to listen in to the various anecdotes about their hectic lifestyle. But then that would only serve to distract from their continual crisis allure.
The Late Ones
Running, running, running.
Always looking for a space, kids always missing the queue. Why can’t they do it? Why can’t they just set their alarms for twenty minutes earlier? It beats me! I’m Miss P and I’m up a whole hour earlier than most of these parents to flippin’ well meditate…
Late Ones: it’s not that difficult!
Or go to bed earlier. You and your children…
The Late Ones are at least fully dressed, to their credit. There’s much to be said about making an entrance in style, as opposed to trailing your wardrobe behind you a la Perpetually Frazzled. The Lates really do have their appearance down to a T, you’ve got to hand it to them.
Perhaps they could even teach us a thing or two about the virtues of being so mañana and visibly in control of their emotions?
The Sneak In and Outers
Cunning, like foxes they dart in and out, hellbent on remaining incognito, trying not to make eye contact which could lead to dangerous conversation… argh, they’ve got actual jobs and stuff and need to be at the office in like minus five minutes. Don’t the rest of us get that?
These guys will stay in their cars up until those last precious few seconds before the bell rings rather than navigate the mingling at the gates. And when they do it is with dragonfly precision. Their footsteps pre-planned, every micro-second accounted for from a distance so as to zigzag the chatterboxes who lurk precariously, ready to lure them in for tasty morsels of The Family’s gossip.
Often they will seemingly propel their children up the path from afar watching with a hawk eye mid-car, mid-school entrance, then, as if mindful of the stealth of their predators on an African plain, they’ll leg it back to the car and off into the sunrise.
Safe for another day they mop their weary brows.
The In Their Own Bubbles
That’s me. Most of the time anyway.
In their own Bubblers can be misinterpreted as shy, slightly snobby even. But we just don’t want the drama of The Family, we arrive on time and so can’t be striking up much more than a fleeting ‘hibye’ with The Late Ones, The Sneak In and Outers, well, they undulate our path, and all we want to do is hand The Perpetually Frazzled a Self-Help book… which they seem to sense a mile off and so give us a mile of a berth. Just as well really, TPFs are the most likely to burst our happy place with their constant commotion.
Although we ITOBs are few in number, we can’t help but stand out from the crowd… mainly because we’re not in it, but stood in our own personal spaces, chilled and calm and collected. We chat with like-minded bubbles, covertly laugh at the rest of the mob (c’mon, we might be zen-like but we’re only human!) and generally find this really is the only way to start not only the school day, but a ‘grown up’ day.
And what about YOU? Are you IN or are you OUT?
Which group rules the roost at your school gates?