The Irish Times was tongue in cheek when it reported on the survey UK parenting website Mumsnet.com published recently. It seems that there is much more happening at Irish Schools as parents drop off and collect kids than sociologists and educators ever dreamed of - in fact it is a hotbed of parent politics. This could add a whole new dimension to early morning coffee in the staff room as teachers discuss the latest arrivals and sort them onto one or other of the following lists:
o Sporty Mum is instantly recognizable by her trim body decked out in either latest lycra or casually worn sweaty togs. Her body language proclaims her physical superiority, and that all other girls are lesser mortals too.
o Office Mum by contrast is late as usual and has no time for parading around. She has a full day of work to do and looks down on all of those who hang out at gyms and saunas.
o Late Mum is best avoided as she is always looking for others to transport her little darling. Many have weakened at the sight of a forlorn children waiting to be collected on late afternoons at Irish Schools.
o Celebrity Mum is patently bored by the attention although she tries her best to attract admiring stares as she alights from her latest sporty car. If you are lucky she will deign to talk to you, provided this is not in exchange for favors.
o o The Grumbler is one of the most dangerous political animals because she is looking for other parents to mobilize for her campaigns. While she will never approach a teacher direct for fear of harming her child’s future she has no quibbles about winding others up. In other words, a parent politicking expert, of note.
o Over all these minor personages PTA Mum rules with an iron fist because parents know that she is looking for volunteers to grab for her latest pet School project. Her peers all know that virulent defense and denial tactics are all they have to offer.
o Dads are seldom in the same league as Mums in School matters and many prefer to be absent from Irish Schools completely. The new egalitarian status they enjoy these days in Ireland has thus far only produced Aloof Dad (is he shy, embarrassed or snobbish) and Right-On Dad who enjoys flirting with School Mums.
Strangely enough the neutral spaces outside Irish Schools have largely failed to attract insurance salesmen and street vendors to date. Might they one day displace parent politicking, or will PTA Mum send them packing, too? The Irish can be a volatile nation. I guess I'll wait and see.