Thursday, 11 October 2012

The 'joy' of the 'school run' and children's parties

So, I'm not trying to win friends, honestly- I haven't been bothered with any efforts associated with the school run.
And the truth of the matter is this, I'm more concerned with getting there on time, and that Squeaks gets off ok, that I'm not really aware of anyone else's efforts either.
Squeaks has attended playschool from an early age, and my mentality is, if we've managed to get all of us out the door and there for 0915 then that's my achievement for the day. Ok, so I haven't straightened, let alone brushed my hair, but Squeaks is clean and tidy, and those tear tracks down her face are signs that at least her hair has been brushed.
Since Squeaks started school in September I guess I have been lucky. Mr J has invested in an extra seat for his bike and he picks Squeaks up from school, and when she's not doing wrap around he's happy to drop her off too. It's not feasible to take the car (you'd end up parking up the road from where we live) and in my head it's still that far bit too far for Squeaks to walk from our front door.
However, in having done a few school runs when work allows, and more than enough (and we've not even hit the fourth year) childrens parties here's what I have learned:
  • Every time I am more concerned with where Squeaks is.
  • Every time I am more concerned that Squeaks is happy.
  • There are some lovely parents that quite clearly have the same priorities as me.
  • When parents are looking over your shoulder whilst you are talking it is not because they are being rude, they're checking on their child's location.
  • When you are displaying multi-tasking abilities (talking and looking over someone's shoulder for your child) it is worthwhile reinforcing your listening skills.
  • As much as you don't want to be known as "X's mummy", neither does Y's. Make an effort to remember people's names as well as the names of your child's friends. I aspire to this.
  • In spite of the fact that a disco beat maybe too much for you at 11am on a Saturday morning it is always better to get involved with making sure your child is enjoying the party than getting penalised by the DJ 'hosting the party' for texting or checking twitter [it couldn't possibly be the internet, so will always be texting].
  • Those bits of paper that are thrust into your hand on Fridays are usually pretty key. This is the first week Squeaks has taken an object to school aligned to 'the letter of the week'. Having seen parents remembering that they've forgotten (whilst we're still yet to remember) a quick trick may be that the letter of the week is how many weeks you've managed to get your child to school on time, and the corresponding letter of the alphabet (that in itself should get you a Maths and English GCSE [A grade at least]).
  • I think, if you remember not to take yourself too seriously, and remember, that every other parent is thinking that they need to take themselves seriously, whilst not wanting to take themselves seriously at all, means that you might just socialise with people that you would in 'real life' and put aside any urge to represent the perfect mummy.
  • And whilst that, you recall from your pre-child existence that you could never imagine yourself making friends with people based on the fact you have children of the same age, that the reality is, for the last X years of your life [ie since the year your child was born] these are the people most likely to associate with your key milestones, and whilst, that a child's age alone should not a relationship make, they probably understand the thoughts that keep you awake at night better than most.
  • That you should never try to compete, no matter how tempting, on intellectual finesse (the pub quiz winner every week), on physical ability (triathalon this weekend, half marathon next, you?) or on your child's ability (yes, she  can recite the alphabet forwards and backward and discuss Lerange's square theorem). 
For me, only a few months in, this is where I think I'm at:
  1. It is likely that with all other things in life you will meet a parent you have much in common with.
  2. Most parents are in the same boat- they once had a life of their own, sometimes for escapism they like to visit.
  3. If it was only you feeling the pressure of the school gate, there wouldn't be so much written and spoken about it. It's not just you who doesn't want to stand alone (in the corner).
  4. A point of reference of your favourite band is the best way to find a common ground. Nothing unites quite like an appreciation of the lyrics of a favourite song. 
So, for me L7, Stereophonics, Feeder, Manic Street Preachers, Blue October, Scissor Sisters, Ash, ...and for that matter, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Adele, Ed Sheeran... 
Welcome, to the school run.

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