I do granddaddy stuff now. I babysit and take a couple of grandchildren to school and pick them up. These two are quite young, six and four, so are at the age when they can be a bit dreamy.

My granddaughter is the elder and can make a simple task into the most time consuming ordeal you can imagine. We have great hopes for her to become a politician, or possibly one of those people who work out estimates for building work, although we can’t get her to suck in air through her teeth. Most irritatingly though, she is normally the last one out of the classroom.

The school takes each class to an exit and will release a child only when there is an adult to take possession of them. Inevitably, this means that some kids are pushed out of the queue and into a waiting area to stand there until a parent or other carer can be arsed to turn up.

The odd thing is that those with a collector who is normally late will be those at the head of the line. They look around, but without the expectation of seeing anyone. Despite this they have a certain hope in their eyes. Today, they seem to think, might be different. They take their disappointment with a certain resignation as they seem to know that no one really cares about their feelings. Their heads drop for a second, but they soon lift them, just in case. But it is a wasted effort.

The little sad scenario takes a minute or so to run its course and with class numbers the size they are – the government cares as little for the kids as these parents – then I’ve often thought there might be a way to speed things up.

I get fed up waiting. Nothing I say can get my granddaughter to the front half of the queue, let alone the front. I occasionally ask her what took her so long, trying to stifle a yawn, and she will say she was talking to one of her friends. I’m pleased she’s popular, but isn’t there enough time during the lunch break to reinforce such bonds?

I have come up with an idea. It is better than my initial one, which was rejected out of hand by the school without explanation. I can’t see what is wrong with making a little pen, with a big lock on it, marked ‘Unloved kids’, to dump those whose parents/carers don’t seem to give a damn. But if they want to go all PC then I know I’m beaten.

How about if the parents line up before the door opens to reveal all the children lined up? As the first child comes out, it is handed to the first parent, the second child to the second parent and so on. They are taken back to the adult’s home and returned to school the following morning. I mean, the kids all look more or less that same at that age.

This method has a number of advantages:

Waiting time is limited for both sides,

Those children who don’t normally get picked up will not have the disappointment of everyone talking about them,

A late parent has a bit of extra time to pick a child up at the back of the queue,

Parents get to know other children in their child’s class,

And finally, and most importantly, perhaps my granddaughter will put her coat on without having long conversations with other kids.

It’s got some downsides. First, those parent who seem currently reluctant to pick up their kids on time might be that way because their kids are a bit of a pain. Secondly, you might get stuck with a smelly one.

Other than that, what’s not to like?

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Disappointing children

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