As a working mum, the school run is my nemesis. No matter what time I set my alarm clock for in the morning; no matter how much preparation I have done the evening before – lunch packed, school PE kit laundered, school bag already on the back seat of the car; no matter how hard I put the pedal to the metal Master A and I always arrive late at the school gate.
It’s become a bit of a joke among the other mums, with a few of them even forming a syndicate to take bets on how many minutes past the school bell we’ll be late by. The biggest wager won was when we hit 20 minutes and I had to ring the school bell to gain access to the building.
The school secretary simply gives me a look, with her eyes rolling heavenward. There’s no point even trying to make an excuse. The simple fact is I have a nine-year-old son who dilly-dallies. Unless I’m standing over him, watching his every move, and chivvying him along, he gets side-tracked by the task in hand, often forgetting what he was supposed to be doing in the first place.
On Monday, I pulled up outside the school in our usual hurry – the hazard lights flicking, doors hastily thrown open, bags pitched onto the pavement, Master A climbing onto the front seat to exit.
“So what do you think about the new proposals that parents whose children are constantly late should be fined?” the TV reporter asked, thrusting a microphone in my face, while his cameraman zoomed in on my startled and harassed face.
Obviously, sensing it was not exactly a good time to get an answer from me the reporter motioned for his cameraman to stop filming. He then explained he was putting together a news report on the new fine system being considered to curb pupil lateness and asked what would I thought about it and would I be interested in commenting on it for his piece.
I made the local news that night. While others interviewed agreed with the new fine system, agreeing that it was disruptive to other children and wholly irresponsible of parents, my lone voice squeaked: “Gosh! That seems a little extreme!” – with a look of sheer panic etched into my stricken features.
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