Friday 28 October 2016

The schoolgate tribes

Published 30/08/2015 | 02:30

Earth mummy, illustration by Declan Considine
Earth mummy, illustration by Declan Considine
Coffee morning mummy, illustration by Declan Considine
Stay at home dad, illustration by Declan Considine
Glamour mummy, illustration by Declan Considine
Helicopter mummy, illustration by Declan Considine
Lycra mummy, illustration by Declan Considine
Nosy mummy, illustration by Declan Considine
renegade mummy, illustration by Declan Considine

The school run starts again next week, here we introduce you to the mums and dads you'll meet this term...

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Earth Mummy delivers Foinse to school in a bike trailer. She likes to think she's sending the other parents a message about their gas-guzzling people carriers. The other parents shudder to think about the safety hazards of that wooden contraption…

Foinse's first day at school was challenging so his mother sent him some distance Reiki and reminded him to give the rose quartz crystal in his pocket a little rub if he was feeling lonely. He seems to be settling in now.

Well, save for the Geography incident. The headmistress sent a letter home when Foinse argued that "chemtrails" was definitely a cloud type.

His diet can present problems too. It's near on impossible for Earth Mummy to monitor it when he's not at home. She calls the other boy's mummies to explain that he has unique dietary requirements but he often comes home from playdates high as a kite on sugar. Another mother took him for fast food!

Earth Mummy called her as soon as she found out:

"I told you that Foinse was an ovo-vegan!"

"Oh! I thought that meant he was shy..."

DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET... She took the epidural.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Yoga for Kids and Permaculture for Children.

SCHOOL LUNCH... Sprouted wholewheat bread with hummus and avocado.

REPORT CARD: Earth Mummy has an affinity with the natural world but doesn't mix well with the other mummies.


Lycra Mummy goes for a jog before the school run, after which she showers and changes into another pair of leggings. Her sense of worth is derived from the shape of her bottom and she makes sure to attend at least three Pilates classes a week.

Breakfast is a green juice concoction and she can't understand why a parent would give their child Rice Krispies.

Lycra Mummy took part in the Parents' Race at Sports Day "for a laugh" but nearly killed poor Jake O'Toole's mummy when she elbowed her way into first place. She insists it was a light sprint.

Preferred sportswear labels include Stella McCartney for Adidas or Victoria's Secret yoga pants (she always picks up a pair when she's in the States). She accessorises with Nike or New Balance runners and a FitBit Flex.

DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET... Her son's first word - after "mama" and "dada" - was "nocarbs".

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Anything that breaks them out in a sweat.

SCHOOL LUNCH... Wholemeal pitta bread stuffed with tuna, and a banana as an occasional treat.

REPORT CARD: Lycra Mummy has shown a keen interest in PE but is neglecting her other subjects.


She heads up the PTA, cheers from the sidelines at hockey matches and was once seen wearing a high-vis vest and directing cars when there were complaints about traffic bottlenecking at peak times in the school carpark. The lollipop lady didn't appreciate her efforts...

Helicopter Mummy is always the first to give the teachers a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift and she's on first-name terms with the headmistress. In fact, she went straight to the headmistress when her five-year-old son's teacher refused to regrade his spelling test. Any fool could see that he quite obviously misheard "paw" as "poor".

In later years, she takes it upon herself to drop her daughter and her friends to the teen disco. What she doesn't tell them is that she waits in the carpark across the road until collection time

DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET... She fantasises about receiving some form of Outstanding Contribution Award at Prize Day. And yes, she attends Prize Day. She's the woman peeking in the window...

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Ballet, piano and Latin. Her older children are warned not to tell anyone that they're getting grinds. Her six-year-old is learning Mandarin, but she doesn't like to brag.

SCHOOL LUNCH... She sent a strongly-worded letter to the school board asking them to remove high-sugar foods from the tuckshop.

REPORT CARD: Very conscientious Mummy; excellent attendance rate.


The SAHD resents the term "house-husband" and prefers to think of himself as a "work-at-home father" (even if the only income he's generated lately has been via online poker).

While other fathers have mastered the art of the supersonic school drop-off - go, go, GO! - the SAHD prefers to man the frontlines. He dresses accordingly in lumberjack shirt, North Face padded vest and hiking boots and pretends not to hear when his wife teases him about forgetting his tool belt.

The double glances he gets at the schoolgates haven't gone unnoticed. He knows what they're thinking: "Finally, a rugged man who's not afraid to get in touch with his feminine side." They're actually thinking: "Why is that man dressed like Bear Grylls when the only terrain he has to climb is the Jungle Gym in the playground?"

DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET... He hasn't even started the book he's "working on".

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: The coach is forever telling him to get off the pitch during football training.

SCHOOL LUNCH... Nutella sandwiches if Mum isn't looking...

REPORT CARD: SAHD assumes responsibility well and enjoys taking on new challenges.


How is her hair so bouncy? (Sleep-in rollers.) How is her bottom so pert? (Salsa jeans.) Glamour Mummy drives a 4x4, wears sunglasses on her head even in winter and seems to have always just come back from a holiday.

Is that a Rick Owens jacket? Yip. Are they Alexander Wang boots? They sure are. As for her collection of designer handbags - it was eight at last count.

Her children are equally on-trend. They were the first seen sporting loom bracelets in the schoolyard and they've had their teeth braced since the age of nine.

Glamour Mummy is like an exotic bird to the other mums, who often sit in their cars discussing what they think she's had done. They've also noticed that while she brings exquisite cakes to the bake sale, nobody has ever seen her eat.

DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET... She rather enjoys the frisson she has with her son's rugby coach.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Anything performing-arts related.

SCHOOL LUNCH... The nanny looks after that side of things...

REPORT CARD: Glamour Mummy is always very well turned out.


Nosy Mummy is easily identified by her shrew-like features and darting eyes. Bankruptcies, divorces, personal crises - if there's a scandal at the schoolgates, she's the first to know about it. But she's not gossiping. Oh no, she's concerned.

Nosy Mother makes sure to divulge the inside scoop under the guise of compassion, and her arms are open wide:

Glamour Mummy: "Well, I believe she's had a bit of help in that area... can't be easy, all that pressure to look good..."

Renegade Mummy: "Well, Ms Watson told me that they never have a homemade lunch - it must be just awful for them."

Nosy Mother also has a tendency to fall out with the mother of whoever little Fiachra has fallen out with. It's only right.

DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET... She made an anonymous tip-off to the school authorities about Mr Wilson's apparent fondness for the bottle.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Swimming - it allows her to sit in the bleachers with the other mummies talking about so-and-so's weight gain.

SCHOOL LUNCH... There's a GPS tracking device in Fiachra's lunchbox.

REPORT CARD: A very inquisitive Mummy who is showing great interest in Irish History.


Renegade Mummy arrives at least 20 minutes late every day. If her children aren't parachuting out of the car, they can be seen waiting for her to scribble a note to their teacher using an eyeliner pencil.

Her contribution to the charity bake sale was a Marks & Spencer triple layer chocolate brownie cake. Helicopter Mummy complained that she "took the spirit out of it". She also thinks it's absolutely disgraceful that Renegade Mummy takes her children on holiday during term time.

Nobody knows this woman's name or what she does for a living, only that she's the mother who sent the Filipino nanny to the Parent Teacher Meeting on her behalf. Sometimes seen wearing pyjamas.

DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET... She "borrowed" some of her daughter's Communion money for her last Botox treatment.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Why didn't you tell me you had swimming today?! Cue last-minute detour back to house to grab togs, towel and goggles.

SCHOOL LUNCH... Generally shop-bought on the way to school.

REPORT CARD: A highly-spirited Mummy, but could try harder.


I don't know where the day goes, says Coffee Morning Mummy after spending two-and-a-half hours in Starbucks for the third time that week.

The schoolgates have become her social outlet and if she isn't asking the other mothers if they "fancy a coffee?", she's organising a Mum's Night Out or a wine and cheese evening. At the same time, she worries that she has lost the ability to relate to people that don't have a child in her son's class.

Her husband refers to her coffee mornings as "bitching sessions". She has to concede that he might have a point. Conversation starts easy and breezy but inevitably segues into their children's reading levels, Ms Brady's inability to offer constructive feedback and the working mother who told them she was too busy for coffee mornings. Total cow...

DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET... She has no intention of ever going back to work.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Anything with a coffee shop in the vicinity suits her just dandy.

SCHOOL LUNCH... She once spent so long chatting to the other mummies in the carpark that she was still on the grounds when the lunch bell rang.

REPORT CARD: Coffee Morning Mummy gets on well with all the other mummies but can sometimes have difficulty applying herself.

Illustrations by Declan Considine

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