If your child has just started school, the joys of the school run will become part of your daily routine for many years to come. And one of the stand-out things is all the different kinds of mums and dads you'll come across.
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Here's our oh-so tongue-in-cheek look at playground parents you'll meet at drop-off and pick-up ... Which tribe do you fit into?!
Uh oh, there they are.
You'd hoped to avoid them because, frankly, they look amazing.
Always wearing shades and dressed head-to-toe in the latest fashions – their hair is glossy, the dads have perfectly groomed beards, the mum's make-up is perfect and they both have AMAZING eyebrows.
You feel drab by comparison in your school run uniform of jeans, a clean-albeit-unironed top and trainers. How do they do it?
This is one relaxed parent.
They drive up to the gates, with seconds to spare before the bell and let the kids climb out themselves. Why? Because they're still in their pyjamas.
Their kids each have a carrier bag from the grocery shop near the school, where they've somehow picked up their lunch en route. You're pretty sure they were even wearing their slippers to drive in – and is that a towel on their head?
There they are. Your new BFF – super friendly, chatty and, uh oh, before you know it, asking you to join the PTA/bake cakes for the sale on Friday/help out on the Y2 trip to the zoo.
They're involved in everything that requires getting sign-ups and is just too hard to say 'no' to. No wonder other parents dive behind trees to avoid them.
If only you remembered to do the same once in a while!
Their child is positively gifted and jeez, don't they let you know it?
You only ever see them for a few minutes at the school gate and yet they alway manage to drop into conversation ALL the times their offspring got certificates and special merits AND the fact they're in the top reading group...
They show you photos on their phone of the Pinterest-perfect cake they baked for their child's birthday and the wonderful week they had in the Algarve. Grrrr ...
You've never actually seen their face – they never get out of the car and besides, the windows are tinted black, which makes it tricky to get a good look at them (you've tried!).
Day in, day out, they roll up in their 4x4, parking on the double yellows outside the school gates and generally causing traffic chaos.
If there's no space they'll double park without a flicker of shame, dropping off the kids (and taking their own sweet time) before zooming off again.
They always look tired, frazzled and a bit harassed.
They take up half the playground with their double buggy and also have a baby in a sling plus a few other small people on reins, trundling behind them.
No wonder they rarely say 'hi' or stop for a chat: they're too busy spending every second looking round to check that none of their flock have disappeared.
They're on every school trip, they volunteer to help in the library each week, they know all the staff by their first name and always have a juicy bit of staffroom gossip (which sadly they can't tell you because – after all – they're ALMOST like staff).
They regularly arrive 10 minutes after the morning bell (you see them on your way back from dropping the kids off and they're inevitably red-faced and looking stressed).
At the end of the day, their kids are the ones left in the playground like lost souls with their teacher, who reminds them he's not a babysitter when they do finally arrive (still looking red-faced and stressed!)
Their voice booms across the playground for all to hear.
You know everything about their little Bobby and Ella's achievements – regardless of the fact you a) have never spoken to them and b) don't care. It's just hard not to overhear conversations with others!
How do you know sporty mum or dad has run a marathon before breakfast? Because they’ll tell you ALL about it.
Still wearing their brightest, tightest Lycra at the school gates, the sporty parent loves a humble brag.
‘Bit tired this morning, had to get a 20-mile run in before the kids woke up,’ they say, leaning against their racing bike and sipping a protein shake. ‘Still had time for our family yoga sesh though.’
Your main goal in life is to thrash them in the parents’ race on sports day.
These mums and/or dads might well be lovely but because they are ALWAYS in such a tight-knit group, you'll never get to find out.
They seem to take up half the playground as they stand in a huddle, laugh loudly and swap tales of the last book group or night out they all had ... They are shiny and bright and they make you feel drab.
Until, that is, you get back in your car and speed-dial your parent pals (hands-free of course!) to hear how their drop-off went.
A lot like yours, it would appear!
The School Run by Helen Whitaker is a laugh-out-loud novel full of humour about life at the school gates. See more details here at Amazon.
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CHAT: not coping with the school gate