It seemed like a harmless comment, but Cape Town-based mom Janine Dunlop had no idea how it would change her life.
In a move she now acknowledges was “thoughtless”, Dunlop told us that her excitement at a recent change in her perspective had caused her to rush into telling a friend that she had lately been enjoying the school run.
The school run, according to the Collins Dictionary, “is the journey that parents make each day when they take their children to school and bring them home from school.” It is well known for the stress it causes parents and non-parents alike, as heated arguments have been seen to break out in the middle of traffic when parents stop wherever they like, with little regard for their fellow drivers on the road, to drop off their child at school.
According to a study reported in the Daily Mail in 2012, 42% of parents feel ill at the prospect of the school run, and 77% find it more stressful than work and grocery shopping.
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Asked why she had suddenly admitted to enjoying this stressful activity, Dunlop said through sobs that her intention was never to show up her fellow parents.
“For the past year, I’ve been taking my teenage daughter and her friend to school every day. We’ve been having great conversations in the car, and often sitting for a good half an hour outside the school to continue them. I get to be privy to so much more than I would normally hear. Boys, parties, their thoughts about school, friends, becoming a woman, and being an adolescent. I’ve been enjoying it so much,” enthused Dunlop, “that I momentarily forgot myself and told a friend it was my favourite part of the day.”
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It didn’t take long for the Cape Town mom to be shunned by all her friends. Word spread rapidly that she was no longer like everyone else, gritting their teeth through the traffic and trying to get it all over with as fast as they could. She’s been blocked from classroom WhatsApp groups, and says she hasn’t received a single invitation this term to drink wine with other moms.
“That’s what hurts the most,” said Dunlop. “We used to get together regularly to complain about parenting over a glass or five of wine. My Friday nights have been very quiet this term.”
Dunlop defended her actions by saying that she’s not all that different to other parents: “I get it. The ridiculously early start, the traffic congestion, the bad drivers, the forgotten violins and reply slips that you have to go back for. All of it sucks. And then in the afternoon, you have to do it all in reverse. You start to feel as if you live in your car. I know how trying it can be.”
“I’m still the same mom. I’ve just started to look forward to driving to school,” she said with glistening eyes.
Asked to comment on Dunlop’s behaviour, a mom who chose to remain anonymous had this to say: “It’s just not the kind of conduct you'd expect from a fellow mom. You think you know someone, and then in the blink of an eye, everything changes,” said Anonymous. “I just don’t think I can be friends with someone who says she enjoys the school run. It’s bizarre.”
Do you often find yourself actually enjoying the mundane with your kids? Don't be ashamed, tell us! Send your comments, stories and favourite moments to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish them.
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