In contrast to the mummies so frequently seen on the school run, or clustered around the gates anytime after 3pm, the school run Dad is a much rarer animal. Not possessed of the soft heart of the Mummy, he can cheerfully dump and run, leaving little Cameron/Lexi sobbing into the voluminous skirts of the teacher on duty and scarper for the 8.15 to Waterloo without so much as a backward glance.
Dads don’t have a great deal of patience with the school run and the delicate nuances of female competition. They prefer to bulldoze their way up the pavement, yanking a near-hysterical child behind them and tough tits if you’ve forgotten your show and tell for today and left your lunchbox at home. If you're lucky, he might stop off at the newsagent and buy you a packet of crisps and a family sized bar of fruit and nut to keep you going. As soon as you crack that open at lunchtime, half the class reaches for an Epipen and the dinner ladies become hysterical.
Even worse is the Dad who is late and decides to try and drive right up as close to the school as possible. One such got caught behind a friend of mine who was trying (pretty unsuccessfully) to reverse her car into quite a tight spot. It took her two or three goes and, once he was able to get past, he stopped his car alongside hers, lowered the window and yelled “you stupid f*cking woman” at her for precisely no reason at all, other than he reckoned himself because he was a newsreader on some feckin’ dismal little satellite channel that nobody watched and a giant tosser into the bargain. So, naturally, he was far too important to wait for someone else to park. We consoled ourselves by reassuring each other that his wife was thick and his children were fugly.
We have already encountered competitive dad who, on the school run as on Sports Day, is inclined to turn up in a tracksuit and the very latest Nike trainers. He jogs on the spot whilst waiting for the gates to open and insists that Ben and Ella run home, even though it's pouring with rain and Ella turned an ankle in Gym earlier on today. He hares off through the puddles, splashing anyone too slow to get out of his way with a cry of "It's only rain - you won't melt!" as Ben and Ella trail miserably behind, trying not to look at their school friends steaming past in the Mercedes 4x4, making big L's with their thumb and forefingers and mouthing LOSERS! through the window at them.
Weekend Wally is the divorced Dad who picks up from school on a Friday night. With no idea at all what to do with his offspring while their mother is re-enacting scenes from ‘Cougarville’ in All Bar One, he relies on forced jollity to get him through. He is inclined to greet Joshua with a hearty “Hey BUDDY!” and Lottie with “how’s my little Princess today?!” which makes both children cringe and blush. Minutes later in the car, Josh receives a text from the class bully, Troy. It reads “Ur dad is a spaz and a gaylord”.
At one time, my kids attended the same school as a certain now-famous TV chef. Of course, he wasn’t famous in those days and he never once roared “school doesn’t get any tougher than this” as he let his kids out of the BMW on the double yellows in the morning.
Dads also have little regard for the rules. Viz the Shah who, at our kids’ first school, took on the role of Santa at the Christmas Fair with great gusto. Needless to say, he was totally politically incorrect and allowed, nay encouraged, children to sit on his knee and/or give him a hug. I was living in fear of his being branded a Plastic Paedo* but he was having none of it.
It was probably just as well that it was deemed to be too onerous (ie sweaty in that beard) for one person to do the whole shift, so there would be an interval in the proceedings and someone else would take over. Who should volunteer but the Shah’s mate Jim? Nothing funny about that until you find out that Jim is actually Jewish. So (as he delightedly recounted to a Board meeting the following week) there was him (Jewish) and the Shah (Hindu) sharing the Father Christmas robes at the very Christian school’s Winter Fair. The Headmaster didn’t seem too bothered, not a single child commented on the fact that the morning shift Santa had acquired a deep tan from somewhere and, in case you're wondering, a Plastic Paedo* is a sorry excuse for a real one. Sorry Shah!