Two years of school run fun

school-sign

Back in September 2014 as a newbie school runner I had no idea that, over the course of the following two years I would experience days that felt like mental torture – the ones when, standing at the school door, it appeared that everyone else had someone to chat to – a close friend or even group of friends with whom to huddle whilst I pretended to be engrossed in my iPhone weather app, tears pricking my eyes.

It felt as though my alienation extended itself to my son who seemed unsure of where he fit in with his class mates and complained of having ‘no friends’. Teachers at parents meetings assured me that this was not the case and that he was sociable and well balanced.

It has become apparent to me over time that there are numerous factors which play into that feeling of alienation. Of some significance I have found, is the physical space where you stand and wait. When JJ was in Reception year his class door opened out onto the main playground – at school run time that can be an overwhelming place to be, with seething masses of adults and children and a great deal of noise. The children of other mums who I had known before they were school age were all allocated to a completely separate class located on the other side of the building.

Gradually, as that first year progressed, I made friends with one of the other mums who was occasionally present and I was able to exchange pleasantries with a couple of others depending on who was or wasn’t there on any given day.

That all changed in Year 1 when the school decided to mix up all the classes and suddenly I found myself starting over – none of the people I considered friends were the parents of a single child in JJ’s new class. Combine that with the fact that the Year 1 class doors are located in a kind of bottleneck pathway used by half of the school to reach the main playground and you have the least sociable space ever.

The other big factor to consider is your level of personal uncertainty. My children’s school is not one of those posh middle-class havens where everyone arrives in a Range Rover. Nor is it the rough school with the bad reputation in an insalubrious neighbourhood. No, it kind of bridges the gap between the classes and I feel like I kind of fall between the lines of belonging. Age is another factor in this – I guess we tend to gravitate towards like-minded people who have at least one significant thing in common with us – be that age or a background that includes a series of leaps through higher education.

I have had a hard time in my personal life over the course of the last year and it has taken a long time for the details to trickle through to some of the other mums who I haven’t had much to do with other than the odd innocuous conversation about nothing much. It finally feels as though people are getting to know me – particularly now I have become a single mum and moved into a new home.

Perhaps having a child in Year 2 in an infants (rather than primary) school helps at this point. You feel like a bit of a veteran. Perhaps it is the fact that I now also have a child in Reception class – and we have been allocated the nice calm class round the back in Reception-only outdoor space which is filled with lovely child-friendly equipment and just feels like a much more sociable space.

Perhaps it is because I have finally become friends with a handful of familiar faces via one means or another and JJ seems to be filled with more confidence around a greater range of his peers. And perhaps it is because, so far, juggling the school run with two children in two different classes has been a little bit busier and felt like less of a groundhog day rat race, but for all of these reasons, this year (so far) feels different, more positive and full of more possibilities.

Fingers crossed that school life continues to improve and for all those newbie school run parents out there – I hope this post gives you some hope that you are not alone even on the days when you feel invisible.

11 thoughts on “Two years of school run fun

  1. When Crevette started school, I thought I’d immediately become friends with half of the other mums in the playground… how wrong was I? It took 6 months before Crevette made a real friend at school, and it took me just as long to speak to another mum for the 1st time. It’s so much easier with Beanie, who is now in Year 1. I knew some of the faces already, felt more confident as a school mum too. Your description of how you felt as an ‘inexperienced’ school mum really resonated with me. I felt just like that too! Glad it’s all easier now. xx
    Mel recently posted…A MAD End of the WeekMy Profile

    • I’m sure it must be so common to feel this way Mel – especially in the first couple of years. You are at the school for such short bursts of time that it’s virtually impossible to really get to know anyone. There’s not much left to say once you’ve discussed the various merits of iron on labels vs. sharpie pen or queried the timings for the upcoming teacher-parent meetings. If you’re an introvert it’s even worse! It definitely gets easier as time goes on I think (although if anything Year 1 was worse than Reception for me!). Xx

  2. Oh my I could write a post myself about the school run playground. I’ve been doing it for 22 years now!!! When I was in my old house (where I’d lived for 24 years) my younger kids went to the same school as my older kids and I started to see mums the same age as my older kids in the school playground…that was freaky! At that school I had a dad who came up and spoke to me and we became really good friends to the point where he would ‘call for me’ in the morning. We never really spoke to anyone else. We are still friends now, but we have moved moved areas and our kids go to different schools, so no more school runs together. 🙁
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  3. I found it easier when Agent M was in primary 1 and 2 as the parents all gathered around a separate door and i knew some of them to say “hi” to from nursery. I did feel kinda out of place at times though.

    I found that primary 3 was harder. Even though he was at the same door, i was at college so i only really picked him up once a week and the parents almost outcast me cause i wasn’t there all the time to keep up with the chat.

    He’s in Primary 5 now and cycles home with his friends (we stay on the same street as the school) so i no longer need to deal with playground politics. Thank goodness.

    #TheTruthAbout

  4. I can totally associate with this post. It was exactly how I felt when Grace first started school. Then we moved area and I felt it all over again. It was only over the last year that I actually felt involved – and particularly in Grace’s last term of her last school. Now she is starting over again but she walks to and from school without me – the relief is immense! Thanks for hosting #TheTruthAbout

  5. Aw Sam I’m so happy to hear this! It must feel as though everything is coming together at the moment, I’m so pleased for you. I’m very lucky at school because I have lots of super supportive mums that are always ready to help or have a cuppa. I think it helps when they know a bit about you and you open up to them. I don’t know where I’d be without them all. Here’s to your positive future full of possibilities. xxx
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  6. I have felt exactly this way at times too, and it isn’t just an issue for newbie school-age moms. Right now my oldest is 13 in 8th grade and my baby just turned 2. There’s not a chance of making friends with the moms there. They all have teenagers and up, or at least all self-sufficient aged children, and no one wants to hang out with the lady who has the tantrum throwing toddler! 😉 I swear even when I don’t take him they can smell that there’s a car seat in my car and run. It will always be something. And ironically, I have made friends with the women of my daughters’ primary school finally, but I’ve gotten involved in some other volunteer positions and don’t have time to mingle with them…so now I’m “the snob!” Uhg, you can never win. But I’m very glad you’re starting this year on a more positive note. And even more so that your son is feeding off of the new comfort as well. This is actually a really good topic to share!

  7. Cygnet is not at school yet and won’t be for a while, but I would say it has taken me a year or so to get to know some of the other parents at nursery. It takes a while and the more other peoples social groups are established the more difficult it is to break in, particularly if you are a bit of an introvert like me. Anyway, we are getting there, slowly. Pen x
    Pen recently posted…Single mum myths and the lies behind themMy Profile

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