We have now reached the third part of my incredibly informative and highly valuable and succinct, and totally accurate and representative field guide to the different species of parent doing the School Run.
Part One was all about The Gang, the group of parents at the School Gate who either welcome you with open arms, or huddle together and mutter as you pass.
Part Two was concerning The Belligerent One Who Argues With The School – a distinct species who likes to bully entire institutions into serving the wishes of just one parent.
DISCLAIMER: None of the examples in this series are people I know in real life. Or rather, they’re examples based on EVERY SINGLE PERSON I’ve ever met, ever. It is not about you, for once.
(Please Note: This is a guide to the UK species. Parent plumage, call, and behaviour may vary in other countries. For example, the North American Parent may have spots on their spinal crest for all I know).
Someone has got to do it, haven’t they? Otherwise nothing will ever get done. Happy-to-help, supportive and with a get-up-and-go! sensibility, The Organiser is a key member of the school community. Schools need some parents to be Organisers. Haven’t the teachers got enough crap to do? The Organiser gets things done. The School Fete? They make it happen. The Bake Sale? They’ll co-ordinate stalls and cajole other parents into being contributors. Children-In-Need Raffle? They arranged it back last June. Getting the School Library equipped with voluntary contributions? They’ve got it sorted. Who else would do such a thing?
Well, The Organiser does. There are some people born to organise things, and they’re really good at it. A good Organiser Parent will knock up parties, costumes, exciting homeworks, and dizzyingly brilliant dioramas for their kids. Imagine what they could do for the entire school… basically, the whole concept of Parent/School relationships and committees and meetings and forums and events would crumble overnight if The Rapture took all the Organisers into heaven, leaving the rest of us behind on the sinful Earth, awaiting the Horns of the Apocalypse and the clippity-clop of four sets of hooves.
On first impression, the Organiser is slightly intense, but a jolly good sort. Depending on the ego of the person, the Organiser could turn out to be either one of those quietly efficient and charismatic figures who makes things happen and takes not a word of thanks in payment; or is every other parents’ worst nightmare – a vicious, insistent monster who nags you into … urgh… taking part and can ruin you with 3 guilt-laden words if you refuse.
Plus Side: They work bloody hard, often on top of their regular job (although sometimes it could be someone in NEED of a job, or just something to do during daylight hours). Perky, quietly assertive, dedicated. The School would despair if nobody stepped forward and did these things. Because the School simply cannot do this shit on their own. Will organise a Christmas Fayre complete with avuncular and criminal-records-checked Santa, a tombola, a range of stalls, bloody loads of cakes, a PA system, a school disco, even members of School staff who are so inclined. All with two weeks notice and a clipboard. A vital component of the School’s links with the parents.
Minus Side: Slightly shrill, often dominant, can be a busybody, massive ego, can take umbrage if their demands are not met and can flounce out of meetings and resign from their role if they don’t get their way – because if they don’t do it, the whole thing will be a disaster. They can also be a bit of a coercive bully forcing people into doing something they don’t want to do. Expecting cakes, stalls, and bloody miracles to happen at a moment’s notice. Will regard a non-committal response to a query as a binding blood contract (“Well, you said you’d be up for baking 30 cupcakes back in September. Remember? You said: ‘I could possibly do it, I’ll have to check the diary and get back to you’. Well, I remember you saying it, and I’m holding you to it. You don’t want to let the whole school down, do you? Jolly good!”).
APPEARANCE: Clipboard, list of everyone’s email address, raffle tickets
CALL: “Are you free to help out on Friday afternoon for the…?”
HABITAT: Committees, meetings, school admin offices, chatting with the Headteacher on first-name terms, seemingly everywhere around the school with limitless powers