The school yard is a funny place.
For the kids, it is the place of freedom and play ... and sometimes bullying and trauma.
For mums and dads it is a place to catch up, to arrange playdates, to part from tearful children.
For newcomers to a school it is bewildering. There are no set rules about where to go. Other parents don't wear badges stating which class their child is in. They can stand there day after day without anyone talking to them.
Our new school is no different from the last. Someone, eventually, will put two and two together, matching me and my child up with theirs. Until then I observe.
But observing is funny. Parents who can't leave their children. Children who can't leave their parents. And dogs (or rather, their owners).
Don't get me wrong here: I like dogs. I cannot begin to understand people who dress their dogs, although I am informed that there are valid reasons for doing this with small, bald creatures ... but why get one of them, when you can get big, soft fluffy dogs such as Retrievers, Spaniels or Setters?
Yet our new school seems to have a surfeit of dog-owners with another pet hate (sorry - dreadful pun!) of mine. Carrying dogs. Why have a creature with four legs of its own and then carry it? Surely God designed these creatures to run around?
The first one I saw was clearly a puppy. A small concession here: perhaps it needed warmth. Still, why not leave it at home whilst on the school run? It only takes 20 minutes or so. I'm sure the puppy would survive that period without physical human contact if it was left in a warm room or with a hot water bottle.
The second I saw was a Jack Russell. This was no puppy, so why bring the dog and carry him? (or her!) The dog should have been tied to the railings outside to wait while mum went in to collect the children.
Today I thought the locals had finally gone completely round the bend. Walking through the school gates I saw a lady with what looked like a small St Bernard under her arm. Doing a double-take, I realised that it was actually a soft toy. Phew! The world hasn't gone completely mad.