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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!