I wasn’t sure that this was something that I wanted to write about, or at least put my name to publically. The thing is with blogging is that you never know who reads your posts. You never know how far they reach and whose hands they will get into. But at the same time after carrying out a recent poll on Twitter about the school run, I kind of felt it my duty. I needed to discuss school gate anxiety and why we feel the way we do about this daily task.
Leading up to the Little Man starting school, I knew I was never going to look forward to the school run. Obviously, in the beginning, this was because I wasn’t sure how he was going to manage and cope with the whole drop off, but deep down, I knew that there was more to it than that.
I’m not a snob
I was always a quiet child. When I was growing up I was often called a snob because I was quiet, I was very misunderstood. I wasn’t a snob at all. I was just shy and wasn’t the type to strike up a conversation with strangers or new people. Little has changed over the years and so naturally the thought of mixing with people at the school gate made me a little apprehensive.
Once I get to know someone, I change completely. I become chatty, smiley and friendly. But I have to be comfortable with them first. I am the perfect example of an introvert and I’m not ashamed of that. It’s just who I am. I make no apologies.
The problem with the school gate is that it reminds me so much of school itself. It’s a new thing for me. I was just as nervous, if not more so, as the Little Man on the first day! I felt like the new girl. I was to a certain extent.
A smile costs nothing
Many of the parents at the school Little Man goes to know each other. There aren’t many of us that stand and wait on our own. Most of them stand in groups. That can be intimidating in itself. But when you make eye contact with another who is in one of the groups and they don’t smile or acknowledge your existence, it can make you feel a bit crap. It doesn’t make you want to approach them to try and get to know them.
I’m the sort of person who will smile at someone if they make eye contact with me. To me, that’s polite. It’s how I was brought up. Bearing in mind, these are people who I will see on a daily basis for a good few years to come, so it’s a nice thing to do, in my opinion. But, it seems a lot of people don’t think the same.
So this is why I dislike the school run, or more specifically, the school gate at home time. I’m way out of my comfort zone. I’m standing around lots of people and cliquey groups that I don’t know and I am not the sort of person who will just rock up at the school gates and start talking to anyone and everyone. It’s a little uncomfortable, to say the least. But it seems I’m not alone.
I was curious, so I did a poll on Twitter. Funnily enough, whilst waiting in the school playground (what better way to avoid eye contact than by looking at my phone, right?!), I wanted to know if I was alone.
54% of people that took part admitted to dreading the school run whilst the other 46% said they weren’t bothered either way. Strangely enough not one person selected the ‘love it’ option.
I wanted to find out about other people’s experiences and so I turned to the ever honest blogger community. I felt so much better after reading the responses.
“My sons school has a lot of clique groups which I hate. I try an avoid hanging round in the morning or afternoon to be honest. Some of the Mums (and Dads!) are really rude and bitchy and it’s the kind that is spoken loud enough for others to hear. I haven’t been victim to it but I wont entertain it so best to keep well away!” Sophie – sophobsessed.com
“I hate the school run because it is so cliquey! The Mums, and in fact Dads, at my children’s school are so stand offish to anyone they don’t already deem a friend. As somebody whose son came into the school in the middle of a school year, I felt incredibly left out from the start and I just try and get in and out as fast as I can these days.” Emma-Louise – evenangelsfall.com
“None of the parents at my sons talk, at all! Every single one line up in absolute silence while waiting for the staff bring out our children. It’s such an unsocialable place. My little one got invited to a birthday party from a boy there once and I spent the entire party feeling awkward because none of the parents spoke to each other.” Kaiden – kaidenlaverty.com
“Thankfully I don’t have to do the school run anymore, but I used to hate it because people would stare and then turn away if you weren’t part of their “group”. Talk about not giving the kids anxiety in the playground, the parents should learn from the kids I think and just get on with it!” Angela – thelifeofspicers.com
“I don’t have to do it anymore but I used to HATE it. I found the mums all knew each other and I don’t know if I gave off a ‘don’t talk to me vibe’ but no-one ever seemed to make an effort to talk to me. It is boring just standing there for 10-15 mins in the cold and wet, then there’s the parking issues or trying to get away from the area with people parking in all the wrong way.” Ally – www.thesmldietblog.co.uk
I suppose the one thing to take from this is there is a really likely chance that there is someone else stood on that school playground that is feeling exactly how I am feeling. There are clearly more people like me out there than I realised and I now feel a little less left out, just from reading about other people’s experiences.
I know it’s early days and with a bit of luck, I won’t always feel this way. This time next year I won’t be the new Mum and there will be others there who have never done this before either. There will be others who dislike the school gate as much as I do now. Perhaps one of them will smile back and will feel relieved that they’ve found someone who knows exactly how they feel.
How do you feel about the school gate? Do you have good or bad experiences? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to know.
Many thanks go to all of the bloggers above for contributing to this post.