Dads doing the morning run

Scott Avery provides a ‘reality check’ on life as a Dad on Duty preparing the kids for the morning run…when Mum has been in charge of all day-to-day activities!.

What works, how do the kids take it, how do Dads survive the school gate Mafia and more…

If you ask me, mums seem to have the school drop-off schedule down to a fine art. Bags are packed, lunches made and hats are found with precision that would make the finest military man weep with pride. It might come down to lack of regular practice but for me and some of the other dads I speak to, when we are in charge, things never seem to go as smoothly.

Somehow the cool, composed, confidence embraced by dads upon opening of eyelids tends to diminish substantially by 9 am. Perhaps it’s the “why do now what get be left until the very last minute” approach where things go awry. How can getting recess and lunch ready be that hard you say? Well, if a slice of last night’s left over pizza was deemed more substantial than a healthy salad sandwich it wouldn’t be! And, while acknowledging I’m a few fingers shy of being a top notch hairdresser, I’m yet to master the wrangling of two girls running away from me screaming “Dad - you’ll wreck it”, as I go for a last minute tidy up as we walk out the door. With each lap of the dining room table I’m aware that vital minutes are being lost in my finely tuned schedule or organised chaos.

The departure from home is the critical component in the operation, and without a well-oiled routine it can be easy to forget anything and everything.

Lunch – CHECK.
Recess – CHECK.
Jumpers- CHECK.
Hats – CHECK.
Bags in car – CHECK.
Kids - CHE….. “Kids – get in the car!”.

Great. All buckled up - lets go. “Dad, did you remember I have news today?”. Argggh. I think my record is 7 house re-entries to collect forgotten goods and chattels. Finally, ready to go.

You’d think my story could end here, but navigation from the car to the school gate is a whole other minefield. Safety is first and foremost. Concentration must be high and involves more eyes than god gave us. One eye on each child, one on the bags, and one for those crazy people who drive by touch and think the No Stopping zones are the Principal’s way of personally thanking them for choosing to send their children to his school. Once the kids have made it through the through the gates, the immediate danger is over. Or is it?

The danger is over for the kids but now it is dad’s turn to face the firing squad, or as they are more aptly known, the School Gate Mafia. Shifting eyes are every where and I’m sure I hear whispers of “Oh my god, those poor girls! Dad did the drop-off”, and “maybe we should fix their hair when he leaves”. I also hear murmurs of “I hope they have lunch” through the tight mum’s network of professional dropper-offerers.

My favourite part of the exercise is when I spot a kindred sprit - another drop-off dad. His tie slightly askew, collar-cuff up high – “how ya goin’ mate – busy?”, as he scuttles past, balancing a heart felt keenness for being involved with his kids with a mild anxiety that he might be late for an important meeting work.

It’s only later in the day that the quick hug and kiss goodbye comes to mind and it doesn’t seem so complicated after all. Maybe if I start planning now it will be smooth sailing next week….