I breathed a sigh of relief as I looked at my list and saw the names of the next parents on my appointment list. It was the first parents' evening of my NQT year and understandably I was nervous.
I knew that some of the parents in the school's decidedly middle-class catchment area had been concerned about having a male reception teacher, never mind an inexperienced one. This evening was part of my continual efforts to prove them wrong on both counts. At least I didn't have any worries whatsoever about Lily, the pupil about to be discussed.
Lily's parents sat down across the desk from me and I launched into a paean of praise. I was delighted with the way Lily had settled in. Her development in every area was excellent; she was incredibly enthusiastic about all aspects of school life; her behaviour was superb; she was popular with the other children and, in short, a delight to have in my class.
I looked at Lily's parents, expecting to see pleasure etched across their faces, maybe even eyes misty with pride. They were stony faced and clearly unmoved. Lily's father had obviously been nominated as spokesman. "We're concerned about her motivation," he said. It was all I could do to stop myself retorting, "But she's four years old!"
The next day I was chatting in the staffroom to a colleague who taught Lily's elder sibling, Rose. At his appointment with the parents he, too, had been unremittingly positive about their daughter.
Her parents had brushed away his praise to complain that Rose was "developing a screw kick in her backstroke". I couldn't understand their determination to search for non-existent problems and overlook their children's significant abilities. I wondered about the potential effect on their daughters. My next job was in an area where parents had real things to be concerned about.
Names have been changed. The writer is a primary headteacher in Cheshire. Send your worst parent stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could win #163;50 in MS vouchers.