If you like people watching, the school pick up is a phenomenal place to observe human behaviour.
Due to my obscene 4.30am get up time it means I’m free to pick Molly up from school and even after seven months, I’m still fascinated by the throbbing crowd waiting for the main event.
The first genuine issue is getting parked close to the school. Traditionally I’m always really pushed for time (late), which means all of the choice parking spots have gone.
So I’m the fool who parks about a kilometre away and has to sprint the final stretch at 3.29pm. Take it from me, being a 17 stone bald man, puffing and sweating at the school gate isn’t a good look.
As Molly and her cohorts are so young, the teacher makes sure that each child is met by a parent. And I’ve noticed there’s almost a hierarchical/matriarchal structure in place with regards to where one is stood whilst waiting for the children to materialise.
As I’m a shy sort, I tend to stand on the periphery and when Molly appears I jump up and down waving and shouting ‘yoo-hoo’ – I intend to keep this greeting going until she’s at least 16.
I’m not sure how I get promoted to be near the front, but I imagine it will involve some form of grappling as a test to see if I’m worthy.
One thing that became very apparent very quickly was just how much of a collective force the Mother’s Alliance hold.
The school pick-up tends to be a lot more social as time isn’t as precious as the drop-off. This means that time is available to discuss what they do and don’t like – this could be teachers, children or attitudes.
I’ve been playing rugby for more than 20 years and I’d rather take on a 20 stone Maori at pace, than get on the wrong side of the Alliance.
As a young lad I remember coming out of school and a boy racer screaming past the school gates in an exotic XR3i.
The initial tutting and hand-gestures this produced was terrifying enough. But the following day a gaggle of mums (using their own cars and bikes!) sprung an elaborate speed trap, bringing the villain to a sudden stop just past the school gates. As far as I know that lad was never seen again and is probably propping up the A27 flyover at Farlington.
How good it is to see that times haven’t changed. At Molly’s school the mob are on standby like sentinels. As the children leave the bastion of safety within the school walls, they’re on hand to safeguard the onward journey.
I just skulk around in the background with a few other dads, going about my business, trying to avoid eye contact.
It’s probably the safest way.