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My worst parent - Sandpit joy for son - and Dad

Mr and Mrs Jenkins were the last parents on my list after a long evening. I was sure I had heard both of them entering the nursery. I was looking forward to telling them how well Martin had settled in. So I was surprised when it was only Mrs Jenkins.

"Oh, Geoff has decided to wait out in that other room. He's sent me in on my own," she explained.

That "other room" was what we affectionately called our "messy area" and comprised a water tank, a long trestle for painting, a table for clay and other gunky activities, plus a raised sandpit.

I was pleased to give a positive report and say that Martin was most content when he was using clay or playing in sand or water.

"Ah, he'll be taking after my Geoff then - he's always happiest when he's up to his eyes in some muck or other," she said.

I watched them walk to their car. They looked a happy couple. They were having a good laugh about something, anyway.

I was about to switch off the light in the messy area when I saw it. The sandcastle was nothing short of a work of art. It had turrets and exquisitely sculptured castellation. Windows were crafted from straws and an amazingly realistic drawbridge was constructed from corrugated cardboard. Five painted paper flags set the whole thing off. It was truly a joy to behold.

No wonder Mrs Jenkins had been sent in on her own. Once Mr Jenkins had started his creation, it was easy to see how he could hardly have considered leaving it unfinished, even for his son's parents' evening.

He might not have been the best parent that evening, but he certainly left Martin with something to live up to.

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

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