Well, hello and welcome to PART NINE of this Spotter’s Guide to those wacky and bizarre creatures, PARENTS, doing that crazy daily ritual, THE SCHOOL RUN! How are we all doing? Are we having a good time?? I SAID ARE WE HAV- oh, it’s not a stadium gig and you’re not going to answer me (except one at a time by email, it’s not a good crowd noise).
I hope you are having a good time.
If you’ve clicked on this, and you’ve not read the other eight parts of this spotter’s guide, don’t worry. Here are all the other eight parts:
If that’s all “tl;dr”, then the gist is: Parents, eh?
DISCLAIMER: None of the examples in this series are people I know in real life. I’m really just listing a whole bunch of parental stereotypes that just so happen, by coincidence, to crop up on the school run. If you feel I have been unfair, then please do nothing about it.
(Please Note: This is a guide to the UK species. Non-UK species can be observed using similar methods, but be forewarned that in other territories, parents are more likely to have venomous stings)
It’s our imaginary November morning again. The sky is grey and overcast. The wind is chilly. There are the usual gaggle of human beings crowded around the school gate, a scrum of adults and children. The car pulls up, the kid gets out, the adult doesn’t. There’s a shout of farewell and the car drives off, and the kid makes their own way into the school. The child looks small and vulnerable. The Gang tuts and mutters. The Alt Parent wants to give the poor kid a hug. The Belligerent wants to have a word about this to someone.
Distantly related to The-Not-Giving-A-Shit, The-Dump-and-Run parent barely makes an appearance. It’s hard to make a study of them in the field. They do the same thing at the birthday parties. They’re nice and polite, but you don’t really get to know them, and they’re not really part of the School-Run Community. Maybe they have a very busy job? Maybe they’ve got lots of other things to do? Maybe they love their kids very much and they need to be in work before 9am through rush-hour traffic? Maybe they think it’s best that the kid is self-reliant and disciplined enough to get into school by themselves? Maybe they really can’t make the Sports Day, or the Nativity on a consistent basis due to external pressures that are their own business and none of ours?
Maybe all of those things. Maybe I shouldn’t judge.
Nah, fuck it. I’m going to judge anyway. Maybe they’re an arsehole who don’t notice their kid walking into school by themselves, who don’t see the kid looking enviously at their classmates getting hugs and kisses from their parents, and who don’t give their children the support at plays or sports that the kids crave so much.
Or maybe they’re not an arsehole, and I’m sorry for calling them arseholes. It’s not like the Dump-and-Run is abandoning their kids. And it’s not as if the Dump-and-Run doesn’t love their kids. I’m almost certainly being horribly unfair. Maybe I’m the flawed parent, who walks their kid across any road in fear of some terrible accident that won’t happen, who insists on holding hands in public in case of the unlikely event that the dreaded Bunty Man of tabloid fame comes and takes her away? Maybe I should be a bit more confident in her abilities, and drop her at the school gates and allow her to make her own way into school without my guidance? It’ll teach her to take responsibility for walking across a small area of tarmac all by herself, at which point the school can look after her. My daughter’s old enough now. She doesn’t need me. She can fend for herself, and make a nest out of leaves come nightfall.
Yeah, but I can’t. I can’t just sod the fuck off and leave my kid to make their own way in. I just can’t, that little gappy-tooth face, that little ray of quirky sunshine. I can’t turn away from that. I actually like the whole saying-goodbye ritual. And I also like my morning natter with the other mums. Maybe the Dump-and-Run is just another Quiet One, and doesn’t want to get involved. Maybe. It’s hard to know. They are the Parent I understand the least. I just don’t get it, and maybe that’s my problem. And they don’t impact on my life all that much. They’re usually zooming off by the time their child has passed through the gate, leaving a very discreet sound of tuts in their wake. I just feel sorry for the kids, I guess.
If you’re a Dump-And-Run, how do you feel about it? Guilty? Or is there a sensible reason why you’re not staying there until the kid enters school? And don’t say “Work”. Fuck work. Work sucks.
Plus Side: Self-reliant kid. Another boring parent you don’t need to get to know.
Minus Side: Years of bitter resentment from the child probably. “You never walked me into the school, Mum! You just left me there and drove off! I HATE YOU!!!” & etc.
APPEARANCE: Looks like a Mercedes to me. E class. Not that posh.
CALL: “Bye darli-” [door slam, drive off]
HABITAT: Not school.