Who knew that actually something as simple as taking your child to school could be fraught with such risks. Certainly not me. I naively thought that the school playground was a place of happiness, where friendships are made and where kids and mum’s bond over small talk and promises of coffee. Four days into ‘School Run’ and it appears that this is not the case. I’ve tried really hard week, I did my hair, I managed to find make-up that was still in date and useable and I even put on matching shoes and resisted temptation to go out in my UGG boots. However, it seems that the school playground is a jungle, and one that needs some strategic negotiating in order to make it safe.
I had been watching the new Sky1 comedy Gates to prepare me for this ‘induction’ and thought that this comedy was a parody on what it would really be like. I was however wrong, and even with my rose tinted spectacles, I was not prepared for just how tough it would be to find a common ground on day 1.
It seems that many of the mums already have their own little niche of friends. Many of the kids starting have older siblings at the school and this not their first foray into the school run. They are like hardened criminals, more adept than me at getting the best parking space near the school gate and a dab hand at arriving bang on 3:15pm to grab that important right by the gate spot for their child to make a beeline for them.
They also seem to congregate in groups with other mums on the school run and these groups, like migrating animals huddle together in droves and move as one cohesive unit. All mum’s in at 3:15pm all mums and kids out at 3:25pm.
They seem to fall into three groups of school run mums so far:-
- The Squirrels – these mums huddle together in a cohesive ball, protecting their Prada handbags and St Tropez tans whilst discussing which night next week is good for toning tables and are they going to pole dancercise again next week? I have no idea what ‘pole dancercise’ is but it sounds frightening and something that only their size 10 spandex booty can achieve, whilst if I attempted my size 16 booty might pull the pole out the ceiling rather than me climbing up it. These mums are well groomed, their hair looks like that glossy shiny hair you see in magazines like Elle and Conde Naste which I can no longer afford as they mean that Roo doesn’t get her CBeebies weekly. They slink their way across the playground in sky scraper heels and the skinniest jeans and most of them start their day at 9:15am after their appointment with the local botox salon to ensure that by 3:15pm they still look just as good for their TOWIE Mark Wright look alike husband as when he left the house at 7am.
- The Meerkats – these mum’s stare into their mobile phones busily playing angry birds, sharing photos or texting each other (yes seriously, yesterday one mum actually texted the other about going out next week for a drink when she was standing next to her). One mum of the group, usually the responsible looking one stands as sentry and watches the school classroom door for their kids arriving and then shouts at “Karen, incoming, Jenny, incoming” and rounds up the kids to each parent. These mums are decked out head to toe in practical wet weather gear. Often sporting bright wellies and quilted Joules coats I quite envy their relaxed laid back style. They seem to carry a bag to cover every eventually, one with umbrellas, another with scooters, spare shoes and cuddly toys spewed forth from one Meerkats bags yesterday. There’s me huddling in a cardigan and a pair of fleece Birkenstocks and failing miserably at making in-roads into their chirpy little group.
- The Lions - this is the last playground group and be warned. They are as fierce as Rita Ora’s bleach blonde hair. They screech at their kids as they drop them at lunchtime usually with lines like “do I have to THINK of everything, can’t you just remember your PE kit”. They are usually accompanied by multiple number of children and musical instruments, as they ultimately wants the best for their kids at any cost. The Lions seem to have taken over one corner of the school gate playground and pace around talking animatedly to each other about how useless their husbands are and organising sleepovers for their classmates so that the little darlings can have ‘study groups’ and coach each other for their forthcoming spelling test.
As yet I am unsure as to where I fit in the general consensus of school run mums. I have tried now on three occasions this week to talk to one parent from Roo’s class only for her to go back to playing games on her mobile phone. Another mum informed me that she couldn’t stop and chat because ‘the pub round the corner was only open for another 15 minutes’ and the only person to engage me in any form of conversation has been one of the dad’s when he picked his daughter up the other night. Thanks to that dad for not making me feel like a social outcast – you shall get a Christmas card and one of the nice ones.
I’ve always been a shy person, but more so in the last few years as my self confidence took knock after knock. I thought that the years of competing and trying to fit with the ‘in crowd’ had passed when I left school but it seems not. It seems that there is a new game to be played and I need to get up to speed on how to make friends quickly before I get savaged by the lions!