herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Mum's the word: Some selfish parents give us all a bad name on the school run

Parents on the school run have a deserved reputation for being ridiculously selfish.

All it takes is a handful of mums or dads behaving badly and the commonly-held belief sticks: all parents are self-obsessed and couldn’t care less about the rest of the world.

The world of selfish parents can be divided in to two camps. First, there’s the one-time-only offender, the kind who feels they can justify their illegal parking because they have a sick baby in the car or are driving on an injured ankle.

Who could possibly object to them driving along footpaths or through the pedestrianised school grounds when they have such a legitimate excuse?

In the second camp there’s the serial offenders, the ones who routinely block residents’ driveways, park at bus stops and stop in free-moving traffic to drop their child at the school gates and still make it to their desk on time.

These parents all have one thing in common – an uncanny ability to believe they are the most important people in their neighbourhood. Who cares if they are causing a traffic jam? Both they and their children are the most important people on the road.

More than once I’ve seen parents knock kids off bicycles by a school as they pull into parking spots without using their mirrors.

Weekly I see people park on the cycle path by a school, forcing cyclists to swerve around them into heavy traffic.

Almost daily I see parents drive into the school car park before stopping dead on the single-lane road to let their young kids out of the car. They are oblivious to the queue of cars forming behind them all trying to drop off children too.

Repeat offenders, it’s clear they couldn’t care less that they are holding up others who may also be rushing to work. While they are blocking the driveway a two-way traffic jam is building on the main road outside as parents arriving from both directions sit motionless waiting for the stopped car to clear the entrance.

After finding myself stuck behind the same car two mornings in a row I approached the driver smiling and asked politely if he wouldn’t mind driving to a parking spot where he could pull over safely and avoid obstructing the driveway.

He was indignant at my suggestion, forcing me to point out that his actions were causing traffic jams. Amazingly he seemed to have blanked the angry horn-honking he’d inspired from several cars the previous day as his daughter untangled herself from her seatbelt.

As is common with selfish parents, he believed he was entitled to stop wherever he wished. He argued that his kids take less than a minute to hop out of the car, which couldn’t possibly delay anyone.

I asked him to imagine the chaos that would ensue if every parent blocked the car park entrance for 60+ seconds each morning. He shouted at me, refusing to acknowledge the problem, but the following week I was amazed and impressed to see that he stopped his bad habit.

I’d be the last person to volunteer my services as school parking warden, although I strongly wish we had one. The notes sent home from school about illegal parking on footpaths and near the school gates seem to go unheeded by the Selfish Parents Club who must think they’ve been written for anyone other than themselves. 

I suspect the gardai and clampers would have had plenty to say on Monday to the dad who parked across the top of a one-way street, blocking any cars from leaving their estate.

In an effort to take his child to school and see her across the road safely he decided that parking across a junction was perfectly acceptable behaviour. Which, of course, it isn’t, unless you’re a member of the Selfish Parents Club, whose mandate seems to be to give the rest of us parents a really bad name.

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