The start of the school year brings with it new teachers and children, sure, but also a whole new group of parents to meet on the class WhatsApp group. Take it from me – a veteran admin of such groups – about the eight types you can't escape.
The parent who never reads school emails
"Wait … what's this – what is happening?" they splutter in the bewildered manner of my father when I tried to explain influencers to him, as the group discusses the "make a model Burj Al Arab out of toilet roll and pipe cleaners" competition. "I don't know anything about it," they insist. Read: "Can someone give me every single detail – including screen grabs and a PowerPoint presentation – to save me scrolling through my inbox?"
Behold the parent who never reads the school emails. And why should they, when the other parents can act as their personal PAs? A word of warning: one day you're reposting every school notification for their convenience, the next you're scheduling their dentist appointments and picking up their dry cleaning after dropping their children off for a play date.
The forwarding parent of doom
No overblown tale of woe or fake news kneejerk of terror is too doom-laden for the forwarding parent of doom to post on the group chat, usually timed to ruin your Thursday night buzz when you're three seasons deep into Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
“Did you know that wearing a digital watch gives you cancer? I read it on Facebook, so it’s definitely true …”
“Did you know that pumpkin-spice lattes are being used as mind control devices to …”
And … #blocked.
The parent who treats WhatsApp like Instagram
“Living our best life at bruuuuunch!”; “Lovin’ Yas Waterworld!”; “Contemplating life on our yacht at sunset. Hope you’re all similarly #blessed this weekend.”
Thanks, Susan, but this weekend I'm in Carrefour because my children have perfected the art of absorbing anything vaguely edible in the house. Then I'm waiting for the air con guys to turn up and make life worth living again. They said they'd be here at 1pm. I'm sure they'll be on time …
The parent who treats WhatsApp like Instagram's raison d'etre is to let you know they're having more fun than you. Life hack: beat them at their own game. Buy a bigger yacht.
The parent who treats the chat like Google
Here are some actual questions I have been asked on the school group chat: where can I buy coloured socks? Where can I buy jumpers? Where should I have my son’s birthday party? Oooh, now if only there were a place, somewhere online, maybe, a search engine, if you will, where one could type in questions and answers would magically appear …
All I’m saying is, you don’t need a brain the size of a Nissan Patrol to realise that the answer to most of these is: “the mall”.
The parent who rants to the group
Beware the parent on a WhatsApp rant rampage, because their aim is to have you carrying a placard and picketing the headteacher’s office with them by mid-morning. Things the ranting parent wants you to get as worked up as them about include: school fees, homework, school fees, after-school activities, school fees, class sizes, etc.
Lighten the atmosphere a little by airing non-school-related grievances on the chat, for example: Olivia Colman will be better than Claire Foy in the new season of The Crown and I'll meet anyone who says otherwise for fisticuffs behind the bike sheds after drop-off.
The parent who asks the same question every week
“Is it PE tomorrow?”; “Is swimming today?”; “When is the spelling test?”; “Do the library books go back on Monday?” Repeat until the sun goes black or the child turns 18 and leaves home for university, whichever comes first.
When confronted with their aversion to, you know, setting a reminder on their phone like everyone else, be aware that if confronted with their Lohan-esque approach to responsibility, the parent who treats WhatsApp like Instagram will usually resort to acting like a living kitten meme.
It’s all cutesy distress and flattery as they explain that they’re just not someone who can stay on top of things, whereas all you other parents, well, you’re all so grown-up and organised and strong and … have you lost weight, Gemma?
The parents running a group chat within the group chat
You'll reach Inception levels of group chat when some of the parents know each other from previous years / outside friendships, meaning you first have to put up with a week's worth of squealing that their kids are in the same class, followed by a year's worth of them slipping into the convos about hanging out at Chamika's house at the weekend and wasn't it just the funnest fun that anyone ever had in the history of fun and don'cha wish your friendship was hot like theirs?
The parent who only communicates in emojis
Thumbs-up emoji. Translation: Pretending to hold it together.
Shocked cat emoji. Translation: You still believe posts on Facebook? RLY?
Nail-painting emoji. Translation: “Shut up about after-school activities, Susan.”
Boxing glove emoji. Translation: How dare you? Claire Foy was the absolute pinnacle of queenliness and I really think you should drop it now, Lindsey.