Other mums at the 'school gate'.... sigh.....

(34 Posts)
Nic04 Wed 16-Feb-05 06:53:03

Does anyone else find the 'school gate' thing to be either uncomfortable or unfriendly? Or cliquey?! You know, picking up and dropping the kids off to school or pre-school in the mornings and afternoons.

My ds started pre-school this year at a school that I was very lucky to get him into. It has a good reputation & his teachers are lovely, etc etc. That's not the problem though. So far I've found that a few mums already know each other, and it seems that they just don't want to acknowledge anyone else, or even smile or say HELLO. Either that or they will acknowledge you one day, and not the next - GRRR. Last week while I was waiting for ds to come out after preschool, I sat on the bench next to another mum and we started chatting. She told me all about her two year old son and how he's been really sick lately, and we talked about a range of other things until the kids came out and we left. The next time I saw her, it was as though we'd never met!! She walked past and didn't even say a word. I'm finding it quite uncomfortable as there seem to be a lot of people seem to speak to you one day, and then 'blank' you the next. Am I the only one who's finding this whole school gate thing a pain in the #@*&$??

Some of the mums I met there in the first few days were quite nice, so perhaps I just haven't seen them on the days that I've picked up ds. But overall, I find it a bit cliquey or uncomfortable. How hard can it be for people to just be pleasant and acknowledge each other?? I'm wondering what other people think about this and whether you've experienced the same kind of thing.

I've not had this problem ... my DS started nursery school in September, but I already knew some of the mums from other local things.

I do know that sometimes when I'm picking up or dropping off, I'm in enough of a hurry, or busy chasing DS1, that I might not notice people I've spoken to before. I do try to acknowledge people, but I'm forgetful and distracted, and there are a lot of people to talk to already, and we've not been there long, so it's tricky.

It's not worth taking this sort of thing personally, I think. If someone is this petty and weird, then it's best just ignoring them, and if it's just an accident, then why get worked up about it?

Titania Wed 16-Feb-05 07:53:01

yep i have had this for the past 2 years. Nobody talks to me even though I make the effort to talk to them. There are certain groups that stand around together. I just end up standing there on my own.

LapsedGymJunkie Wed 16-Feb-05 08:34:20

I thought this last year, but now this year DS is one of the big boys and I know more mums, so much so that 5 of us have a chinese together once a month and get outrageously drunk. Maybe we are seen as a clique who knows.

I flogged myself trying to include a new mum who I knew wasn't local and I have to say the not talking to thing, cuts both ways. One day it was chat, chat, chat, and the next it was yes, no, yes, no, I gave up and now say Hello and Goodbye.

Nic04 Wed 16-Feb-05 08:51:43

It probably bothers me because it's a situation I have to face several times a week and I'd rather it be pleasant than unpleasant, IYKWIM. I'm not expecting a full-on conversation, I'm just expecting that people could at least smile or acknowledge you when it's obvious that they've SEEN you.

I'm sure it cuts both ways lapsedgymjunkie, but I go out of my way to smile/acknowledge someone/chat to someone who looks like they're by themselves. I don't want an in-depth conversation every time I see someone (who has time?), I just don't think it's that hard to be nice.

SeaShells Wed 16-Feb-05 09:08:25

My DS moved scchools in Oct, he is in yr 2 and I don't get acknowledged at all at the school, it's awfull, I knew alot of the mums at his old school as the kids had been through nursery together so over time we'd got to know each other, all the mums at the new school know each other and are very cliquey, it doesn't help that we've moved here from another part of the country aswell, and talk different to them aswell, they just seem to look at me like an outsider, I can't see I'll ever fit in, I feel very awkward.

stripey Wed 16-Feb-05 09:18:30

ds1 started at pre-school nursery in Sept and I know it can be hard when you don't know any other parents. I find that I usually end up chatting most to the mothers of his friends - children he plays with and likes at school. I do try to chat to others to and am conscious of trying to make general conversations if I see someone standing on their own but there is usually only about 5 mins and it can be tricky while running after ds2. I am now the class rep and have organised a coffee afternoon (ds in PM nursery) for all parents after half term so hopefully everyone will have more time to meet each other.

Has your ds made any particular friends so far and if so could you chat to their parent or maybe see if the kids would like to meet up over Easter or something. This is what I tend to do.

batters Wed 16-Feb-05 09:26:49

Nic04 - it will get better.

Dd is in year 2 and tbh it is only in the last 6 or 9 months that I have felt relaxed at the school gate. Actually, I took on the attitude of "sod 'em" to those who blanked me and it seemed to change. I didn't and don't like the fact that the smaller groups of mum seem to reflect working class / middle class etc and woe betide anyone who goes and stands in the "wrong" group!

I think also a lot of mums have other, younger children whom they have to look after, so their time at the school gate is not their own.

My dp take my dd into school 3 times a week, my dd's friend's dad takes her to school every day. They are universally ignored STILL by 95% of the mothers dropping their kids off. Last Xmas, a mum asked another mum to ask me to ask dp if he would be Father Xmas at the school fair. They couldn't even ask him themselves. My answer to that one was short and sweet.......

But honestly it will get better though it is not a nice thing to go through.

handlemecarefully Wed 16-Feb-05 09:39:15

This is conjecture on my part since I have pre-school children so don't encounter this myself yet, but in your situation I would zero in on other mums who are standing there on their own.

Incidentally, whilst I don't experience this myself yet, I think toddler group is a good analogy. It took me almost a year before I felt truly comfortable and one of the accepted 'regulars' at toddler group. The other mums were not unpleasant - it's just that they seemed to know each other so well. It just took time and persistence to break the ice

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 09:49:32

I've seen this kind of post again and again and its so

I think some people, shy ones, find it incredibly difficult .. and I know that I tend to chat to the same old people at the school gates but that's either because it about school (I'm on the PTA .. maybe you could join yours) or because its old friends who I've known since toddler-dom.. I make an effort to smile and say hi to everyone though

BUT .. occasionally.. I wake up in a bad mood .. I rush to get DS to pre-school .. I barely grunt at my friends let alone other people .. I would be mortified if I thought people took offence

Also you get 5 minutes at the gates, and when friends / acquaintances smile and say hello your attention goes to them .. there is most probably no slight intended

My only advice would be to keep smiling, keep saying hello, try to fight through your shyness .. occasionally suggest a coffee (then and there or the next day) and make friends slowly ..

Nic04 Wed 16-Feb-05 09:56:11

Thanks batters. It's hard isn't it? I remember a friend of dh's telling me a few years ago that the 'school gate' was quite a significant thing, but I didn't know what he was going on about

It's unfortunate that ds had to start at a new pre-school, all the kids he knew from last year have gone to different schools so he's had to start over with new kids. At least I knew who his friends were last year and I knew some of their mothers, at least on a casual basis.

I should be grateful for the fact that ds is really enjoying pre-school so far and that his teachers are wonderful. Perhaps the other stuff will come in time, although it's kind of hard work at the moment.

Nic04 Wed 16-Feb-05 10:00:50

At least it's not only me then Twiglett.. it's hard to know how other people are feeling I suppose. Maybe some are shyer than others and find it hard to acknowledge people, & then again maybe some just can't be bothered.. who knows! I'll keep at it and hopefully things will improve soon.

nutcracker Wed 16-Feb-05 10:22:08

I think it does take tiime though. When Dd1 started nursery i ws pretty new to the area too, so i didn't know a soul, but over the 18mths she attended we slowly started chatting to each other and I now actually like standing and chatting to them all, it's one of the hoghlights of my day (as sad as that may sound).

It is a bit different with Dd2 though, have srtruggled to have conversations with alot of the moms of the kids in her class as alot of them already seem to have kids in the same older year and already know each other.


It would bother me though if no one spoke to me.

Pinotmum Wed 16-Feb-05 10:24:36

Sometimes it's a full blown discussion, other times it's a nod or a smile. I always try to nod or smile at the mums/dads I see regularly. I know not everyone is that way and it can seem they are ignoring you but usually they are not. In my dd's class most parents are friendly but there are those who wish to keep themselves to themselves and if after a couple of days of smiles or hellos I get nothing back I just ignore them. One thing I have learnt is not to write people off too quickly as those I have thought stand offish often are the nicest people in the end

PuffTheMagicDragon Wed 16-Feb-05 10:33:39

It's definitely not just you. There's a mixed bag of chatters, helloers, smilers, nodders, blankers and in my own little worlders at ds1's nursery.

PuffTheMagicDragon Wed 16-Feb-05 10:38:19

Yes, agree with Pinotmum, I've got to know one of the Mums and she is lovely - very shy by her own admission, but we get on well. I've got a friend now and I am happy .

sobernow Wed 16-Feb-05 10:38:40

I think it's the same as when you see your neighbours every day. Sometimes you feel like a chat, sometimes you just nod and wave, other days all you want to do is get in the house and keep your head down. We are all in different moods and not every day is a garden party. I don't think that the mums who ignore me are ignoring me, in the same way that I'm not ignoring them I'm just getting on with what i have to do.

I have chatted to a dad in the playground who said he finds it really difficult because he cannot gravitate towards a group of women and hang about trying to find a point in the conversation where he can join in. It's hard enough for many mums to do that but a dad would look like a creep, tbh. And there's no way he could suggest going for a coffee in the local cafe, never mind round at his house.

So I think it would help if we realised that most people at the school gate are thinking much the same as we are and try not to get paranoid about it.

Pinotmum Wed 16-Feb-05 10:45:46

There is always one dad at hometime outside dd's class and I always say hello to him as he used to look so awkward just standing there. He is a really nice guy and I have since met his wife. In my simple little world I just think that as our children are going to go through school together it would be nice if all the parents were pleasant to each other but sometimes we're just too busy to be pleasant aren't we.

misdee Wed 16-Feb-05 11:02:12

i havent attempted to make 'friends' at the school gate yet. i chat to another lady as our kids went to the same nursery, and sometimes walk back with her as she lives nearby, but i dont know anyone else. i am not snobby or aloof etc, just have too much on my plate to worry about making friends atm.

Poshpaws Wed 16-Feb-05 11:06:03

People can be funny, can't they? Maybe it is about being shy, although I am shy and always say hello to other mums/dads when dropping DS off at pre-school. Also, if a parent strikes up a conversation, however trivial, I will always respond.

At DS' last nursery, there was a mother who I and DH used to say hello to every monring. At first she would reply, rather begrudgingly, then she just didn't reply at all, so I gave up.

Then once she came to pick up her DS and mine was already leaving, shouting 'hello' at this woman and it took her four shouts to answer him. It was just me, him and her, so no excuse to think he may have been talking to someone else.

Her DS has since started school and I do wonder how she is getting on there, but also how HE is getting on because he may be picking up 'unsocial' vibes from his mum

Poshpaws Wed 16-Feb-05 11:07:26

Also agree with misdee, though. I don't necessarily want to make friends, but it is nice to acknowledge people, especially if you recognise their faces.

sallystrawberry Wed 16-Feb-05 11:08:18

Im always rushing around here there and everywhere, so dont have time to chat, although theres a few mums I know from outside the school and if theres a school disco or sports day I chat to them but there are some really cliquey cliques and I just avoid them, my lifes to busy for all that.
My dd is due to start a new nursery at easter and for 6 weeks before shes due to start, once a week they have a sort of playgroup/mother and toddler thing for all the mums and the children who are going to start at the same time, get to spend an hour a week together. Its nice cos we get to chat, play with the kids, have storys and songs and I made a lovely pic of a butterfly last week with glue and feathers lol

lindastirling Fri 05-Jun-09 10:48:37

My son has attended the same school for 3 years. In that time none of the parents have really spoken to me despite me smiling and saying hello.One parent walked home with me one day then ignored me the next!!I cant understand as I am a popular social person in every other walk of life.I try not to let this bother me but it does, I dread picking my son up as I end up standing alone in the playground while they are standing in groups.I can never imagine being so horrible to others.I thought it was just my school this happened at but after reading stories here I realise it happens all over.Anyway it will soon be summer holidays yipee!!

stillenacht Fri 05-Jun-09 10:57:33

Nic04 - i completely know your situation. I get 'funny' looks from other mums there because i am allowed to park in the school (whereas most are not allowed) as DS2 has autism (he doesn't go to that school) when i pick up his brother. Many of the mums are SAHM - and spend their lives in the gym and at coffee mornings (don't care if i get flamed - its the bloody truth). My DS1 is in year 5 so i have been around that school for 5/6 years now. I have a few mummy friends from there and one in particular is lovely and fab but even mums in DS1s class who have known me all this time still give my DS2 funny looks (they have known him since birth).

hopefull09 Fri 05-Jun-09 19:26:37

I think theres too much read into the school gate thing. For me its simply somewhere i have to go, same as the supermarket, i dont see it as an opportunity to mingle socially , and dont really want to.

Ive been a parent at my school for nearly 20 years as my children vary in age. Might sound tight but its tedious for me now,, having to say hello to a hundred parents twice a day.I tend to apear in the playground as the bell rings then i grab and go.
I do chat to other parents occasionally, and im always polite but i have little in common with some of the parents apart from a child of the same age and dont really want to stand around chatting to strangers.

In my experience school gate freindships end anyway as the children grow older or find new freinds or simply move on.

I suppose i could be classed as a blanker most of the time, although its not deliberate, i just want to drop and go.Ive seen all the fallings out , blankings , gossipings , upset over birthday partys, im fed up with it.

Theres the pta clique,, the working clique, the stay at home group, the posh, and the just plain nasty.
I dont think it helps that people often say to mums with small children " it will be differant when hes at school, you,ll make loads of freinds at the school gates ect ".I think a lot of people see school as a social occasion when it isnt.

Dont take it personally, maybe theyre grumpy and off like me !

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