The playground has long been a woman’s world but times are changing and there are now an increasing number of dads on the school run. They are no longer viewed as a peculiarity and offer a more varied cast to the weekly drama that unfolds at the school gates. It’s only right that men too should participate in the stress and drudgery of this ritual and experience the full glory of racing down the road in the pissing rain with a screaming/whinging child.
Although they are small in number, there are still certain observations that can be made about dads on the school run. They largely fall into one of the following categories:
1)The dump and run dad. He skids into the playground, deposits his child at the specified place and time, avoids eye contact or conversation with other parents and races off to work. Should you ask him anything about school, e.g “Do the kids need their PE kit today?” he will just look at you completely bewildered. He knows nothing beyond what time to drop off and pick up. In fact, he doesn’t even know who you are or who your child is, despite your kids being in the same class. Deal with it.
2)The Flash Git of a dad who pulls up in his sports car every day. He normally wears sunglasses, a leather jacket and has the roof down, even if it’s raining. The mums all roll their eyes at him dismissively whilst the dads look on with contempt and/or envy. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing his car get slapped with a parking ticket.
3)The tracksuit dad who is bleary eyed, unshaven and wears stained clothes. He basically doesn’t give a monkey’s, waltzes into school like he’s just woken up after a big night out and has forgotten to wash. He tends to sit on his own, makes occasional inane observations about the weather and then astounds you with some amazingly insightful analysis of Southeast Asian politics or the pound to euro exchange rate. He’s a dark horse.
4)The workaholic dad who is rushing around with his phone glued to his face engrossed in some very important sounding, money making conversation. You wonder if he is the CEO of a big multinational company and whether there has been some family emergency requiring him to attend school pickup/drop off as ordinarily you barely catch a glimpse of him. He is detached and far too busy to converse with you. You wonder how rich he is.
5)The too cool for school dad. He is very trendy and probably works in the creative industry. He knows all the mums’ names, rocks up confidently and is always surrounded by a group of beaming, giggling women. He is the male centrepiece. The object of every mum’s affection. The dad that everyone fancies.
Of course I’m just scratching the surface of the school dad phenomenon. They vary considerably in style and character, but what they appear to have in common is a certain level of discomfort at being thrust into the socially complex world of the school playground. Apart from the ‘too cool for school dad,’ most look a bit awkward and fumble through the drop off/pickup ritual with stoicism.
But let’s look on the bright side of dads doing the school run. It gives them an insight into the diabolical drama that mums endure every morning, creates an opportunity for them to bond with their children (albeit an intensely stressful one), develops their parenting and crisis management skills when they have to deal with meltdowns at the school gates, and finally but most importantly of all, sets an example to their kids that child rearing is a shared responsibility. Bring on the dads, I say.