school

'I can honestly say I've tried.' No matter what, I really, really hate the school pick up.

I can honestly say I’ve tried. I’ve tried hard, and I mean really, really hard.

But when it comes to primary school mums, I now know the reason so many parents dread or even avoid the school gate like the plague. My husband included.

This year my eldest started high school and not having to walk into the school physically to pick her up has been the BEST THING EVER. No parental contact has meant no drama. No drama has meant no stress or anxiety whatsoever with being a high schooler’s mum. It’s great.

The only problem is that I have two kids left in primary school and a total of 21 and a half terms to go.

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Don’t get me wrong, I have met some of the most beautiful, genuine and easy-going parents at the primary school gate over the years and I do have mums, dads and grandparents that I am happy to gasbag to every morning or afternoon. But that number has unfortunately reduced since my eldest started high school.

The parents with children still at the primary school are like me, and we constantly state how we barely know anyone anymore. The older our remaining kids at the school get, the more the parents seem to disappear.

It’s almost like being the Kindy mum again, but even the new Kindy mums seem to have comfortably large cliques formed already. Or maybe that’s because they’re all just new to their friendships and still naïve to the next seven years of life at the primary school gate.

Obviously, I was just as naïve when I was a Kindy mum.

In reality, a lot of school gate friendships are not unlike being back at high school yourself. And if your high school experience was as crappy as mine at an all girls school, then you’ll know exactly what I mean. Groups, cliques, fickle friendships, bitchiness and bullying.

school pick up
When is it okay for kids to take themselves to school? Asking for a friend... Image: Getty.
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Thankfully I’ve grown up into a person who’s not really one to care if people like me or not. However, there are a number of parents and/or behaviours that make me cringe and dread school drop off and/or pick up time:

  1. The (and I apologise in advance for this term) ‘bitch brigade’. Those mums who have their own special clique. Every year group has one if you notice. Dare you look in their direction without being asked and you'll be met with dirty looks all around. Please note, entry into their clique is by invitation only.
  2. The over-involved mums luring the other mums minding their own business into volunteering, or making you/them feel guilty for not volunteering at the last bingo night, school disco, sportsathon, spellathon, gala day or whatever.
  3. Dealing with the parents of the kids who are known bullies who you know have just learned their behaviour.

As you can tell, when my husband finishes work early and puts his hand up to do the pick-up, which only happens on average once every six months, there is some inner dancing going on inside.

I actually wish I could be like him. In the gate and out the gate with barely a word to anyone. Bless him.

I know I shouldn’t be wishing these primary school years away but the truth is, school mum life can be painful, often due to the parents you have to deal with.

The problem is there is no way of avoiding the culprits at the gate for the next five and a half years so I think it’s about time my kids and I have a little chat about those two important words I know they’re evading – car line.

Lidija Zmisa is a mum to three girls, wife and freelance writer. She is currently writing a book for middle grade readers.


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