Us dads are in the minority when it comes to school runs. Forever on the periphery and getting poked in the eyes by hordes of umbrellas on rainy days, we can spot one another suffering from a mile off.
Over time though, a pattern emerges. Each father slips into one of seven school run personality types. We just can’t help it. There’s seven slots and we’ll inevitably end up fitting into one of them.
If you’re finding the school run a bit dull lately, why not print this out and play school-run dad bingo? Tick each one off as you spot them. Just don’t shout out “FULL HOUSE!” if you find them all, lest someone tick off the ‘possibly deranged parent’ box on their own bingo sheet.
The Mum Magnet
Yep, if you hear that called out across the playground, you can be certain that you’ve found a mum-magnet dad.
This guy gets a lot of attention from the school-run mums, and he LOVES it. He struts in with his shades on, chest puffed out, and full of cheeky innuendos.
Mums desperately try to foster a friendship between their child and his in an effort to set up some playdates, even though his son is in the background kicking a dog turd around and throwing stones at pigeons.
He is either wealthy, muscular, or gives of an air of knowing how to re-plumb a bathroom.
In my head, I’m one of these dads. In reality though, I’m broke, overweight, and struggle to change a lightbulb.
You’ll be hard pushed to spot one of these dads.
They attack the school run with clinical precision. They somehow secure the best parking spot every day, and are in and out of the playground before anyone else has blinked. Such assuredness and pure speed suggest he’s possibly ex-military, ex-police, or perhaps a checkout assistant at Lidl.
When an equally upright child emerges from their class, a perfunctory nod is exchanged between the two of them, and they powerwalk out of the school gates in silence.
Could I claim to be one of these dads? Not in a million years. No powerwalking from me after I’ve already walked 6 miles from the closest parking spot I could find to the school.
The Trendy Young Dad
He may yet graduate to mum-magnet status, but as of now, he’s way too young to be of interest to them.
Swaying side to side as he walks in like a millennial Liam Gallagher, he’ll be wearing something that looks mad next to everyone else who’s got 10-20 years on him and have subsequently given up on fleeting fashion trends.
Identified by a bright hoodie with something inappropriate emblazoned across it like ‘FCUK SKOOL’, and a pair of leggings or skinny trousers that are inexplicably skinnier than his actual legs, he’ll be picking up the kid named Desert-Lynx Smith from your kid’s class and everything will suddenly make sense.
I’m definitely not one of these dads. Too old, and never owned any skinny-fit trousers (apart from when I bought three pairs of normal trousers that were all supposed to be the same size from Primark).
The Dad That Wears Shorts
May? Okay, I’ll give you that.
January? Come on. Are you trying to make some sort of point?
Everyone’s come across a shorts dad. He wears them all year round. He doesn’t need to lift weights or wrestle crocodiles for a living: he shows everyone how hard as nails he is by wearing shorts in a blizzard.
Like the mum magnet, he loves the attention. For him though, he’s just happy to overhear whispers of “how on earth is he not freezing to death?” from bemused mothers looking on at his goose-pimpled legs.
These are grown men trying to make wearing shorts a personality trait. When I was eight, I used to go everywhere in a trilby thinking that eventually people would instantly spot the hat and say “Hey, there’s Robbie!”. I did eventually grow out of that though (despite me being North East Lincolnshire’s most dapper child 1990).
Legs don’t get all that cold anyway. The day I see a dad doing a February school run in a crop top instead, is the day I’ll finally doff my trilby and say, okay, that’s actually pretty noteworthy.
Though I’d rather wear shorts than skinny trousers, I’m not a shorts dad.
The Fancy Car Dad
This one can overlap with the mum magnet, but can also stand alone as their own type.
Fancy car dads are self-explanatory. They’ll be parked near Purely Business Dad as they’ll have parked-up 45 minutes early just to secure a spot that means everyone has to walk past his car.
They either have wildly unsuitable sports cars, or giant fancy 4x4s. The dads owning fully kitted-out, off-roading, 4-wheel-drive Range Rovers invariably live a five-minute walk away, round the corner in a new-build cul-de-sac.
The sports car-owning ones will be wearing ripped jeans and picking up the little girl named Lambrusco from your kid’s class. Nobody knows how he turns up in a two-seater Ferrari and takes three kids home.
Despite me rolling my eyes each time they rev past me, I secretly wish I was this type of dad.
The Sporty Dad
Nobody’s ever seen him actually doing any exercise, but he turns up each day to school in his gym gear to let everybody know that he’s still hard at it.
Trying to ‘muscle’ in on Mum Magnet’s territory, he occasionally rocks up sporting full lycra that draws attention to certain body parts, blissfully unaware that half his audience is under the age of eleven. For this reason, his presence can unfortunately have the opposite effect on the mums than he intended.
Where he’d hoped admiring glances would be, he instead sees nothing but disdain. This feeds a tragic circle of attention-seeking, in which he assumes he’s still not buff or scantily clad enough for their love. As he works out more, and wears less and less, the disgust in the faces of the school mums become unmistakeable.
He drops off the kids and trundles home, his bulging shoulders slumped, to eat 16 egg whites and search for lycra shorts another size smaller on the internet. “Maybe that’ll make them love me”, he hopes.
I’m not this type of dad. Nobody can accuse me of being in shape.
The Clueless Dad
This guy doesn’t do the dad cause any favours. He’s the stereotypical dad who doesn’t normally do any ‘parenting’ stuff and doesn’t really know what he’s doing. This is the guy in the adverts who mum leaves in charge for an hour, and comes back to find crayon all over the walls, two kids covered in mud and a burnt dinner.
Mum’s busy, and he’s had to step in.
At pick-up time he’s racing around because he’s just come back from the wrong school, and he’s at reception now trying to find out which class his child is in.
At drop-off time, he’s the one hanging around expecting a receipt or something after he’s passed his kid over to the teacher.
It pains me to say it, but despite me being a full-time school-run dad, I think I could somehow be one of these guys.
So there you have it, the seven different types of dads you’ll spot on the school run. Which one are you?
There is of course a secret eighth type that is just decent, normal and well-adjusted. This is the category that myself and anybody reading this that I know in real life falls into.
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I’ll never be the trendy young dad whilst my kids keep finding new ways to make me feel old.