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Anyone else find the school run & playground a horribly competitive place?? How to deal with it?

(64 Posts)
icravecheese Mon 03-Feb-14 11:51:38

I was chatting to a mum last week in the playground that I don't see much as she works 4 days per week. She just upped her hours as her youngest went into yr2. Said she LOVES not doing the school walk & being in the playground every day anymore as she found it a complete nightmare with all the parents discussing reading levels / phonic groups / literacy & maths levels of their darling offspring.

It co-incided with a good mum friend of mine suddenly becoming all competitive with me (no real reason) - our kids are both in same yr2 and reception classes and she is ALWAYS managing to slip something into conversation about her brilliant offspring and what levels they're at (which is always one above mine). I'm fed up of it and beginning to think my working mum friend has a point.

I've tried to steer conversation away from school with competitive mum, but she's SAHM who regularly helps in class and doesn't really seem to have much else to chat about (NO dig at SAHMs intended). She's taken to telling me stuff about my kids that even I don't know, because she helps in their classes.

Its really p-eeing me off....does anyone else find the playground a nightmare in this respect, and how do you deal with it?

craggyhollow Mon 03-Feb-14 12:06:53

No I don't find the playground a nightmare

The mums I know are friendly and we never discuss levels and school work unless its to have a moan about something

I do know that there ARE some mothers (and I know a father too) who ARE obsessed with the school, SAHMS, they volunteer for everything and seem to know everything about everyone but I tend to avoid them and they me as I am no use to them smile

craggyhollow Mon 03-Feb-14 12:07:31

You need to grow a thicker skin and learn to change the subject

or avoid and talk to someone that you do like

All good lessons for life generally

pussycatdoll Mon 03-Feb-14 12:08:37

I rush in , collect dc & rush out

Or get there late do everyone's gone

Job done grin

PastSellByDate Mon 03-Feb-14 12:09:00

Hi Icravecheese

I think you have to catalogue this playground nightmare right with Mum's at mother/ baby group who endlessly talk about how their child has reached x or y milestone and then add 'Oh dear, I didn't realise your DC wasn't walking/ talking/ reading Joyce/ etc...; I'm sure it's nothing to worry about and s/he'll get there in their own time'....

I tend to look at people who compete/ gloat about how well their child is doing are at core deeply insecure and possibly living vicariously through their kids.

What I will say is that many Mum's get sucked in to the fact that at core it can be a competition - especially if like us, you're in an area where there are state funded but highly competitive selective (about 1 in 7 score high enough for a place) grammar schools or very mediocre state comprehensives and nothing much in between. This fact alone can make otherwise rational people crazy. I have a dear friend - she's an engineer - but she's gone all tiger Mom with her only DD in the run up to the 11+. Waking the poor girl up an hour early for extra practice and pushing her to get a Grade 6 on piano in case it makes her eligible for a bursary for the private school they're also going for.

It's very grating sometimes - but at core - she's not a bad person she's just absolutely convinced that if her DD were to go to the local comprehensive she'd have fewer options (described as a future where asking customers if they want to super size that? is the extent of an intellectual conversation)

My advice is ignore it. Just say something along the lines of not taking much notice of/ putting a lot of store in that kind of thing.


CeciC Mon 03-Feb-14 12:20:39

In my DD2 school, mums that have the time do help, but never in their kids class. It didn't use to be that way. The new Headteacher changed it. Some mothers said to me, when the headteacher made the changes, that the only reason they helped before was so they could check how well/bad their kids were doing in respect of their class mates shock hmm. I guess this is the reason why now they are not allowed to help in their kids class.

icravecheese Mon 03-Feb-14 12:21:20

Thanks all, yes I know I need to ignore it / grow a thicker skin, its just started slightly out of the blue from this particular mum (who I tend to always stand with in playground). I would try to avoid walking to school with her (although she still is a dear friend in all other senses) but we always bump into her on the way, so can't really avoid!

We too live in a grammar town, but eldests are only yr2, so that sort of fun & games hasn't even started yet!!

Most mums are lovely, there is just an underlying current of 'oh, my child was doing that months ago', that I hadn't really noticed until recently (had my 3rd baby as eldest started in reception, baby now 2 so I wonder if i've had my head in the sand for past 2 years and playground has always been slightly like this!).

New playground Mantra: ignore, ignore, ignore grin

icravecheese Mon 03-Feb-14 12:23:10

CeciC - yes this is completely something I've been wondering about recently. Sometimes my competitive mum friend talks as though she's a bl**dy school employee, she seems to know stuff about my kids that I don't, and it really grates me. She's NOT a teacher or a TA, but corrects me when I might mention something about class or school.

Really winds me up.....Grrrrr!

craggyhollow Mon 03-Feb-14 12:24:09

Having said there's none of it

dd3s friend has been moved up a level in spellings - I only know this because the mum waved the spellings book under dd3s nose and trilled: 'be careful if you do well in your spellings you'll have to learn to spell the words that Little Minnie is learning now and one of them is AUSTRALIA"

which was a bit puke making but I let her off as I think she was just verry over excited

itsahen Mon 03-Feb-14 12:28:49

I think I would try and say something like 'I don't like to compare children as they are all so different' and maybe hope she can stay a friend without you wanting to avoid her?

icravecheese Mon 03-Feb-14 12:28:58

Grin at craggyhollow story!!

ArtexMonkey Mon 03-Feb-14 12:31:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GreenShadow Mon 03-Feb-14 12:31:49

Do you know, thinking about this, I have probably found the complete opposite.

A lot of parents seem to highlight the negative things about their DC rather than what they are good at. I don't mean in a nasty way, but perhaps just in a 'trying not to boast' way.

MarshaBrady Mon 03-Feb-14 12:32:59

I haven't found this either, I'm used to people talking modestly about their highly academic, high achieving dc.

FlyingDucky Mon 03-Feb-14 12:33:16

The school needs to get an agreement in place. Parents who help must sign a form stating they keep confidentiality re what they see in lessons. Like teachers. Or they don't help.

FlyingDucky Mon 03-Feb-14 12:33:47

Oh. And ignore. Smile and ignore.

ladydepp Mon 03-Feb-14 12:38:01

Same here greenshadow, quite the opposite of boasting with most parents at our school, thank goodness. People who boast about their kids to other parents all the time must be very insecure. I think the best course of action is to react strongly the other way "oh your dc is level 271 in reading, wow that's amazing, my dc still can't figure out which way up the book goes!" Etc.... Throws them off completely wink

Of course, boasting to grandparents and uncles/aunts is essential in our house grin

flowery Mon 03-Feb-14 12:38:14

I deal with it in the morning by arriving a minute or two before DS has to line up, then when he's going in, leaving immediately which is normally fine as I have to get on with work/go to a meeting.

I deal with it in the afternoon by arriving in the playground approximately 30 seconds before DS is due out, and standing right near the door he comes out. Soon as he comes out, we're off.

I'm just not interested in getting involved in those discussions tbh. I'm also a governor which is another reason I don't want to get embroiled in that.

ILickPicnMix Mon 03-Feb-14 12:45:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Uptheanty Mon 03-Feb-14 12:46:01

We have one parent helper who just will not keep her nose out. She gives me the rage angry

She's even taken to turning up at birthday parties & making escuses to stay.....they are yr 6 hmm

She interferes and corrects the dc at every opportunity. She's a bit sad really & I feel sorry for her poor dc.

I'm on the receiving end of lots of cats bum faces from these types as I have no tolerance.

It's not just you.... But ignore!!!

BlueSkySunnyDay Mon 03-Feb-14 12:51:21

I hate it - I arrive literally as the bell rings and DS now walks himself home.

I found it really hard to make friends with people just because we had children born the same year.

As for her telling you about children when she helps in the class - this is completely wrong. Even if you are working as a volunteer in DS school you have to sign an agreement about confidentiality.

I liked to help with reading in DS class not because I wanted to see how he was doing academically but to see how comfortable he was in that environment. Since the HT bought in that you wont necessarily be utilised in your childs class and could you commit to doing x amount of hours per week as they need to do a crb check on us I stopped helping. If I liked children to the extent where I wanted to commit to hours - id be doing it as a career and be getting paid to do the job.

redskyatnight Mon 03-Feb-14 12:54:15

I think you need to change school smile

I have never experienced any school run/playground competitiveness at all. I therefore assume it is a side effect of certain types of school/area?

icravecheese Mon 03-Feb-14 13:00:52

Phew....glad I'm not the only one, was beginning to think I was after the initial comments! I know I'm prob being overly sensitive, and need to grow a thicker skin (particularly as we are a grammar town - heaven help me when the kids get to year 5 and 6!!!).

As for the parent helper bit, she isn't breaking any confidentiality as she isnt telling me about specific children, only correcting me on my understanding of what my kids are doing in their classes. It just irritates me, as she talks as though she actually works, PAID at the school and it really winds me up!! She's just a bloomin' mother helper!

Ragwort Mon 03-Feb-14 13:02:31

I've never experienced this and my DS has been to three different primary schools & two nurseries (we moved around a lot grin).

I do find that you meet some people you get on with and some you don't - but this happens everywhere in life doesn't it? I chat with some mums and avoid others for all sorts of reasons. Equally I am sure some people avoid me.

Only on Mumsnet do certain posters rage about the school run grin.

icravecheese Mon 03-Feb-14 13:03:18

redskyatnight - yes we're in a very white-middle-class-grammar town. I didnt grow up here so never went through the grammar system, but it appears MANY parents are terrible het-up about it already. PArticularly those that didnt get into the grammars when they were kids, so now want their own kids to achieve what they didn't.

I don't like it personally, but its where we live and we can't move area due to DH work confused

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