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The 10 types of drivers you see at Canberra school drop offs

By Jenny Tiffen 2 July 2015 55

I am a mother of four children and have done a gazillion school runs in my time. My experience to date has been with childcare, pre-school and primary school, so to write this post I morphed a few stories from my mummy friends at different ACT primary and high schools.

This is my list of the ten people you will meet at the school gate.

Carpark

1. The finisher
We all have times when we aren’t quite ready for the day by the time we arrive at school. I’ve often hurled two black Clarks at my son on the way to school, but I also know that if your kids’ school has a drop off line, you don’t dare enter it unless your child is primed and ready to fire. If you need to tie shoelaces, fix hair, re-pack the bag, dish out money or sign notes, you pull over somewhere safe and get it sorted before you enter that line. If you are parking, you can take more time, but remember that those car parks are like hen’s teeth. Keep it quick.

stock-child-crying-school

2. The distressed
Yes, children are fragile and can go from happy cherub to emotional train wreck in a couple of minutes, but the drop off line is not a place for family therapy. If you or your child is in a state of despair as your turn to exit approaches, you need to move along, go back around for another lap and talk your little person down from the ledge in the privacy of your own car. Your mini crisis can not affect the entire school population stuck behind you. Equally, if you like to give your child a pash as they start their day, PARK. It’s kiss and go in the lines, people.

parking

3. The blocker 
This is the parent who hasn’t read the signs or arrows and hasn’t realised that by driving the opposite way to everyone else, they are causing an absolute dog fight behind them. Or they have parked their very big four-wheel drive into a tiny side space and their bulky rear end is blocking traffic. Most people hold off on using the horn during school drop offs, but this is one occasion where you are likely to get blasted.

penguin

4. The rusher
The rusher is more important than you. You won’t notice them at first, but all of a sudden the air changes and in flies a flapper with sooo much to do than you or me. They will try and weasel their way into the line. Depending on your mood and the role model you are trying to maintain for your small folk, you might handle rushers differently from day to day. Feel free to stay strong. Make the rusher wait. No cuts. No buts.

stock-kids-children-running-school

5. The tardy
The tardy parent is always five or ten minutes late. One positive is that the car parking area is much quieter by the time school starts, so the children can enter school safely. However, the child then needs to perform an Academy Award-worthy act to blend in and avoid having to sign in on the late register. It’s a tough way to start the day when you are only seven.

story
6. The talker
I strongly believe that there is to be no chit chat in school drop lines. You can RSVP to the kid’s party or get the soccer roster later. This is what your iPhone is for. Use it. Keep your window wound up if you are not sure how to handle a talker. Just smile, wave and send them a text later.

elaine gif

7. The waaaaay too happy
Any parent who is uber chirpy, polished and welcoming at 8:30am confuses me. I usually look like the dog’s breakfast at that time of day, and there’s a good chance I’m still wearing my pyjama top underneath my jumper. I’m envious that some people seem to have all their things together and organised! This person is often the same parent running the fundraising committee. They would never, ever be a finisher.

go go

8. The give wayer
This person is super friendly. They’re always happy to give way and let other drivers in. While they have good intentions, the line behind them never seems to move because half of the school population is going before them. Keep it one for one to make sure the lines move evenly.

giphy

9. The creator
This person is inventive! They create brand new car spots that the rest of us never knew existed! They don’t worry about white lines or footpaths because their car hardly takes up any space at all and they are only going to be there for a very short time. No one will notice. (The thing is though, we do notice. It’s unfair to push in, park in a no parking zone and then expect others to give way to you when you exit.)

Canberra school drop

10. Everyone else 
You are the ones that the teachers like. You are kind and considerate. You know how to nail a successful drop off and you should be proud of yourself because getting to and from school can be one of the most stressful times of the day, followed closely by meal times. Especially in the rain. Rain is a game changer. Even more so in Canberra because it hardly ever rains here, but when it does, it is at 3pm and all of a sudden everyone’s driving skills vanish.  The danger that a child will get hurt is increased 10 fold. BUT you have your eyes ahead, your phone is no where near your hands and you are focused on the task. Thank God for you.

What do you think? Who have I forgotten? Tell us!


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55 Responses to
The 10 types of drivers you see at Canberra school drop offs
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bryansworld 11:09 am 07 Jul 15

Check this out:

http://www.themotorreport.com.au/61875/vicroads-boss-ditch-cars-change-jobs-cycle-or-use-public-transport

We don’t want to get to that level of congestion!

wildturkeycanoe 7:00 am 07 Jul 15

There is only one type of driver I see at our school. They have no concept of depth perception or haven’t got the right prescription for their glasses. The spaces between cars parked parallel to the kerb are easily 3/4 of a car length instead of a metre or so as is the norm. This means that where there could be ten cars parked you only see around half that, with huge gaps between. On top of that, they also cannot parallel park if their life depended on it, taking four or five goes to get into this easily accessible two and half car space whilst getting gutter rash on their mags and going over the kerb onto the grass! That’s after they negotiate by way of pure stubbornness through the narrow street where people park on both sides and turn it into a single lane, then go against the flow in a one way street to exit. Absolutely no idea about courtesy, let alone the road rules.
I have also witnessed a few times the hit and run driver who puts a nice big dent in someone’s boot and then calmly drives off without even realizing they’ve committed property damage.
To be absolutely honest, I do not know how 50% of the parents at our local school got their licenses, or even if they actually have one. What has become of our driver training and license testing system? I know it is racist to say this but it is the honest truth, there are certain cultures that are are the culprits, probably holding international licenses.
All these examples plus the two big scary dogs on the way to school that keep slowly tearing down the fence holding them back are the reasons why I won’t let my kids walk to school on their own, it’s dangerous enough for an adult with this kind of incompetence on our roads, gutters and footpaths.

rubaiyat 11:06 pm 06 Jul 15

sepi said :

I have 3 kids so a bike trailor for 2 isn’t really going to work. anyway – I have to get the kids to 3 different places in 3 suburbs, and then to work.

I would love to be the 50s housewife walking the kids to school, but these days I need to drop the kids off as fast as possible and get to work (late).

50’s Mums only walked their kids to school the first day, then the little blighters had to get there under their own steam.

…I know it seems impossible to do without a mobility scooter and a GPS but back then the world seemed full of possibilities, that are now impossible.

sepi 9:08 pm 06 Jul 15

I have 3 kids so a bike trailor for 2 isn’t really going to work. anyway – I have to get the kids to 3 different places in 3 suburbs, and then to work.

I would love to be the 50s housewife walking the kids to school, but these days I need to drop the kids off as fast as possible and get to work (late).

bryansworld 9:33 am 06 Jul 15

sepi said :

My kids are too little to ride bikes, our local school is a huge walk due to school closures. Schools are over populated due to school closures and a baby boom. This all creates traffic issues. I do park a block away from the school – so do dozens of other people – the blocks all around the school are jam-packed with people trying to park close to the school. and I am dropping them off and trying to get to work – like most families both parents work. times have changed – I would love to walk, but I struggle to do enough hours at work as it is!

Good on you for reducing your impact on the dangerous drop off bunfight. Have you considered a bike trailer? We used one that could carry two and it was great!

sepi 8:53 am 05 Jul 15

My kids are too little to ride bikes, our local school is a huge walk due to school closures. Schools are over populated due to school closures and a baby boom. This all creates traffic issues. I do park a block away from the school – so do dozens of other people – the blocks all around the school are jam-packed with people trying to park close to the school. and I am dropping them off and trying to get to work – like most families both parents work. times have changed – I would love to walk, but I struggle to do enough hours at work as it is!

AdelaideLouise 10:23 pm 03 Jul 15

Piratepete said :

Secondly, I think all the people on here saying back in my day…….please remember that cars now drive faster, there are more cars (due to population), there are more distractions (smartphones) and so people are much more hesitant to let their kids walk or ride especially if they have to cross a road.

I understand people’s concerns, but you’ve just added another (fairly poor) excuse to the countless ones already floating around.

My final year of school was 2008, in Brisbane. Cars, busy roads and devices were all available distractions then, as they are now, and in order to get to school I had to catch a bus and a train, and walk at either end of the journey (including crossing 6 lane, busy, arterial roads.) Some people were dropped off/ picked up by car, but that was mostly the preserve of kids whose mums didn’t work outside the home (perhaps 1/3 of the school population?)

So what my story demonstrates is that Canberra’s drop off situation is not one created out of necessity, but an option which has been socially sanctioned by overly fearful parents (and I say this as someone who was a kid in the same area, around the same time, as Daniel Morcomb.) Canberrans get away with driving everywhere simply because there are no significant impediments to *stopping* them from driving everywhere.

Other Australian cities manage to cope with the stresses of devices, road crossings, public transport, stranger danger and long distances to school because it simply isn’t feasible that parents do a car drop off, so Canberra could too if it really wanted to make those choices. The world hasn’t changed, your excuse just gives people the cop out they were looking for to prevent their beliefs from being challenged.

rubaiyat 7:42 pm 03 Jul 15

watto23 said :

To be fair to parents who do bubblewrap their kids, its not like the perception being far worse than the reality is just related to taking kids to school. Society in general is like that. A freak accident that kills one person can create a whole raft of rule changes, even though its happened once. So many laws are in place because someone may have got hurt once and it may have even been their fault.

People generally do make up some pretty lame excuses as to why they do things and tend to not think there is a choice. Pay car parking is one such argument, where people have made every excuse possible as to why they must drive, when reality is driving is the easiest option and the other options are too hard to make work for them. There are still other choices though!

Spot on!

rubaiyat 7:39 pm 03 Jul 15

Southmouth said :

rubaiyat said :

Southmouth said :

And of my 4 who have not walked to school in years ( we moved), 2 are state level athletes and the other 2 just as fit. Childhood obesity is largely diet.

No it isn’t, it is a combination of diet AND lack of exercise. Obviously your kids get the later to excess.

When we were all kids our diet was not the best, not todays processed junk food just plenty of fatty food, but we walked/ran everywhere and were skinny as rakes.

My father is 91 and has cholesterol problems but not weight problems. Never had. Despite my Mum’s Austrian cooking.

It’s bulk quantities of sugar and refined carbohydrates that are the enemy. I doubt your father had anywhere near the amount of these that kids have now days. Fat is not all bad either. There is no way that walking 3km to school can offset the diet that obese kids have.

Maybe/maybe not. He does have a sweet tooth and always kept lollies in jars handy and a steady supply of soft drinks available, which I don’t. But he has lead a much harder life than I ever had.

It isn’t just the excessive amount of calories, of which sugar is one part not the only one, it is the combination of too much food, with way too much calories and way too little exercise for far too long.

You can get away with the calories if you burn them off, but the body is extremely efficient, it takes a lot of exercise to do that. Eventually given all the pressures to avoid exercise as a normal part of life, walking, running, carrying things, the balance between the calories and burning them off tips dramatically to too much unburnt calories, which the body turns into stored fat.

I sometimes wonder which causes which: the excess fat, diet and inadequate exercise or the flawed thinking with all the excuses. My observation is that prolonged activity actually reduces appetite. When you are busy you are also not snacking as recreation.

The habit of avoiding exercise causes the fatigue that leads to further avoidance of exercise, so it isn’t just the walk to or from school, it is being active as a normal part of life, between, during and after.

People overestimate the amount of time they spend exercising when they do little, but underestimate the actual exercise of a busy active lifestyle because it is spread out throughout the day.

There is a similar effect with IQ. People with relatively low intelligence overestimate what they have because they have little comprehension of what others are thinking or understand, whilst intelligent people underestimate their own relative IQ because they think everyone else is the same or similar, and actually know what is going on.

Evilomlap 4:20 pm 03 Jul 15

Maya123 said :

For most people who say it is too difficult to cycle or walk, because they have children, I would speculate that most didn’t cycle or walk to work as their main means of transport before having children. Now the children are just a convenient excuse for something they never did anyway.

I think I just fell in love with you.

Maya123 2:13 pm 03 Jul 15

For most people who say it is too difficult to cycle or walk, because they have children, I would speculate that most didn’t cycle or walk to work as their main means of transport before having children. Now the children are just a convenient excuse for something they never did anyway.

bryansworld 1:36 pm 03 Jul 15

watto23 said :

To be fair to parents who do bubblewrap their kids, its not like the perception being far worse than the reality is just related to taking kids to school. Society in general is like that. A freak accident that kills one person can create a whole raft of rule changes, even though its happened once. So many laws are in place because someone may have got hurt once and it may have even been their fault.

People generally do make up some pretty lame excuses as to why they do things and tend to not think there is a choice. Pay car parking is one such argument, where people have made every excuse possible as to why they must drive, when reality is driving is the easiest option and the other options are too hard to make work for them. There are still other choices though!

Often just harder, not too hard, For pay parking I think of healthy people with no family commitments who live within 6-7 km of work who cannot contemplate anything but driving. Too lazy to seriously consider buses or bikes. Yes, just too lazy.

watto23 12:03 pm 03 Jul 15

To be fair to parents who do bubblewrap their kids, its not like the perception being far worse than the reality is just related to taking kids to school. Society in general is like that. A freak accident that kills one person can create a whole raft of rule changes, even though its happened once. So many laws are in place because someone may have got hurt once and it may have even been their fault.

People generally do make up some pretty lame excuses as to why they do things and tend to not think there is a choice. Pay car parking is one such argument, where people have made every excuse possible as to why they must drive, when reality is driving is the easiest option and the other options are too hard to make work for them. There are still other choices though!

bryansworld 11:22 am 03 Jul 15

Maya123 said :

Piratepete said :

Firstly to all the people saying what about mentioning the alternate ways to get to school – the article is called “The 10 types of drivers you see at Canberra school drop offs” therefore she is writing only about drivers in this article. She was making no statement that she was including the other forms of transport (be it bus,legs,scooters or bikes).
Secondly, I think all the people on here saying back in my day…….please remember that cars now drive faster, there are more cars (due to population), there are more distractions (smartphones) and so people are much more hesitant to let their kids walk or ride especially if they have to cross a road.
I used to walk from Curtin to Hughes from age 6 to go to school, continuing to walk to Deakin, and then on to Phillip for college. Yes I drive my two under age 8 kids to school.

More cars now yes, that statistic increased by all the parents driving their kids to school, but cars don’t go any faster than fifty years ago. Faster than a hundred years ago, but who’s personally remembering that to comment here. If the child is too young to walk by themselves, one of the parents (or local parents taking in turns) should walk the child to school. Some of the danger of cars to children would likely come from children NOT walking to school and never getting the experience of the dangers and where it is safe to walk. Cocoon them and naturally the big bad world of roads is dangerous to them.

Yep. The only significant change since we walked to school has been parental perceptions of increased danger, as opposed to the reality.

bryansworld 11:03 am 03 Jul 15

Maya123 said :

dtc said :

How many of the whingers (‘why cant kids walk’) actually have kids?

You will find two things quite quickly

a. most kids do walk or ride to their local school (way more than 1/2 if my kid’s school is any sample) or bus in when in high school (most primary schools do not have bus services)

b. of those in primary that don’t walk or ride, many come from several suburbs away (due to things like school closures) or have parents who have assessed the danger from various busy streets etc and decided the risk was too high for the age of the kid. There is a lot more traffic nowdays than when we were all kiddies, for a start (and, as a parent, I’m not scared of the ‘random stranger’, I’m scared of traffic accidents)

There are, of course, parents who do drive, or parents who find it more convenient to get the kids ready at 830 and drive in rather than have them ready by 745 for the bus. Or who drive past the school on the way to work. Or work part time themselves.

How do y’all get to work? Anyone drive? Or just whinge about other people driving?

Answering your question, when I worked (a few years ago), I cycled, or on wet days bused part of the way and then walked 2 kms the rest of the way to work. I rarely whinged (as you put it) about other people driving, because I didn’t experience the stop, start of traffic, although I could see it it times from the distance. And the few times I drove to work, I would think, “This is madness!”. Then I would shake my head in bewilderment at why these people wanted to be stuck in traffic everyday.

I know how you feel. When you’re used to the smooth flow of Canberra’s cycle paths, the very short Canberra peak hour feels like a eternity! Always a relief to get back on the bike.

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