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My worst parent - Full of fight but a softie at heart

Mrs O'Dwyer was a nightmare: a nightmare to staff and a particular thorn in my flesh. She was a regular, and not very welcome, visitor at all hours of the school day, and when she appeared even the most battle-hardened tended to run for cover.

Maeve O'Dwyer was the matriarch of a particularly challenging brood. Broad of beam, aggressively Irish and full of fight, she went into battle on behalf of Bridie or Michael or Shay at every opportunity, regardless, it seemed at the time, of the rights and wrongs of any incident. The sight of her unmistakeable figure stamping up the path was enough to dampen my day. Bridie's been swearing? Those other nasty girls must have been leading her astray. Michael's not in the football team? An obvious example of (my) prejudice and stupidity. Shay hasn't done his homework? Don't we realise she is a busy mum and there are not enough hours in the day?

No matter how carefully I approached each interview with Mrs O'Dwyer, they all tended to end the same way - raised voices, slammed doors and threats of petitions to the local rag. So it was with some relief that we heard the news that the O'Dwyers were to leave us. On the children's last day, she came to my room and I steeled myself for one last volley. Instead, she leaned across my desk, pecked me on the cheek and said: "Mr Smith, I think you're f***ing brilliant." To this day, this remains my most cherished testimonial.

- The writer is a teacher in Hampshire. Send in your worst parent stories to features@tes.co.uk and you could earn #163;50 in MS vouchers.

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