Column: Crazy hats offer relief from St Albans school run woes

Some of the hats already knitted by people for Age Concern.

Some of the hats already knitted by people for Age Concern. - Credit: Archant

What’s with all the silly school run mum hats? Is it a St Albans thing? Another weather change, another sea of stupid headgear in the playground.

Some of the hats already recieved

Some of the hats already recieved - Credit: Archant

As a social experiment, my friend and I will choose each other a particularly ludicrous embarrassing one that we each must wear. Then we are going to see if anyone notices. I bet nobody will bat an eye.

Is this good? Is it because women in this city are not judgemental? Everyone embraces individual quirks and foibles? Probably not. Since that’s the opposite of how I experience school run mums, I’ve come to the understanding that they are so bored they want to be outrageous. Which manifests itself in ridiculous winter/summer hat wearing.

Look, it’s boiling/freezing - I’ve gone absolutely crazy and lost all sense of normality! Check me out - in my artistic unique glory with my hot sense of design and fashion, mixed with a smattering of don’t-give-a-jot.

I didn’t want to say jot. But this is a local paper and even asterisks are a bit risky. Risk. It’s even in the word.

The wonderful part of being a mum is that by the time you have your own child, you have exhausted your dignity in many ways. From actually obtaining a mate, to awkward dating and early sexual shenanigans, to all the humiliation of labour and birth... What’s a hat? What’s the worst that can happen? People will talk?

By the time they reach school age, you have already sold your soul to the system, swapped your old life for enforced personal regulation and given up all your own rights. If your kids aren’t demanding it, the school or in-laws are. It’s gotta come out! You’re your own person, remember? Hey, look at me! I matter! And I am here showing you in my very silly hat.

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I can’t deal with school runs. Metaphorically, it’s like those miserable Christmas cards. The grey dreary ones called ‘A picturesque winter scene’ or ‘In the bleak mid winter’.

The grim dark abandoned countryside, with not even a robin on a post box, to provide a brighter hue. Perhaps a farming vehicle covered in snowy sludge and nothing but trees and bark and smog and mist. That’s how the school run feels to me in February. I know it’s a while until February but I am just gearing up.

It’s the dread of a thousand housewives, as they peer into the fridge at the end of a long day and see that there’s no Prosecco.

It’s a Monday at 5.50am without any Nespresso pods. It’s the tread starting to go on your Hunters, just as the electricity bill arrives. Dreams of new wellies thwarted by huge heating costs. It’s a first world problem but it still sucks.

Chronic school run fatigue. If it’s not in the diagnostic medical manuals yet then it should be. They must all think I am so depressed but it’s not me, it’s them.

As far as I can tell there are only two types of mums. There are the joyful school run mums. Hello! Hello! All false smiles and lipstick. Manic. Conversing with the caretaker about the bunting they are ‘running up’ for the Christmas fair.

And there are all the other normal mums, who have never touched a sewing machine in their lives, and simply can’t be bothered to put on a jolly face, because if they do their freezing cold face muscles might actually crack or split or seize up.

I don’t have to smile. Why do I have to smile? These are not my friends. These women are standing on this playground alongside me, for one reason only: we all had our children within the same seven years. That’s it.

I hate it all. I can’t pretend. I am just no use at it. And here’s a cheerful thought. I worked out that a mother does a minimum of approximately 2.5k school runs – and that is for one child between nursery and starting secondary school. Those with two or three children do many more. Better get working on my compulsory silly hat. But the smile is entirely optional.