For some of us, the daily school run is a necessary evil. We mitigate damage to the environment and to sanity by walking as often as possible (in our case, walking takes over half-an-hour, which is a long way for a five-year-old) and by car pooling with other families who live on our street. This sometimes means there will be six children in the car, all clamouring to open windows, change radio station (“Why all the talking? Give us MUSIC”) and show off about which booster seat has two cupholders. By 8.30am, as I crawl home, my brain has already taken a battering. Which is why I wish the following stereotypes wouldn’t crop up with quite such alarming regularity.
- White van man. The most cliched stereotype of them all. Racing towards me at 100mph won’t make the single lane road any wider. Nor will leaning out the window, rolling your eyes and flapping your hands. My parking sensors have flatlined, which means I’m about to pull off someone’s bumper. Go back from the safe passing area from whence you came and wait your turn.
- Pack of schoolboys. I get the whole “We own the streets and aren’t scared of traffic” demeanour. I know that you’re swaggering around so that you can try and catch the eye of the mini-skirted year-12 girl shimmying down the opposite side of the road. I appreciate that mums in family saloons are about as far off your cool radar as it’s possible to get. But don’t walk in front of cars just to prove a point. I won’t knock you over, but someone else just might, and even the girl in year 12 isn’t worth that.
- When pulling out into traffic it’s not worth going so far into the road that taxis, buses and bikes have to swerve past. Which is why I don’t do it. So Mr Lorry, Mr Businessman in a Hurry and Ms Open Top Car, stop the beeping. When it’s safe to proceed, I’ll do so. Until then, use the opportunity to check your mascara or decide whether your blood pressure can really take the strain of the daily commute.
- Fellow mum. I’m delighted to see you, and would love to catch up. But not in the middle of a busy road with the car windows wound down and a tailback of ten cars behind both of us. A cheery wave will suffice until we’re next on terra firma. Though obviously I would quite like to hear what you-know-who said about you-know-what after the PTA party…
So there we have it from the biggest stereotype, the school-run mum. The next time you see her, take pity. She’s probably been on the go since 5.30 that morning, and realises that fellow motorists breathe a sigh of relief when the school holidays roll in. But think about it. If she didn’t do the school run, the children would go AWOL, so locking ‘em up for the day is probably best for all concerned?