Bobby was a whirlwind, but I had been warned. After his mother rang to enrol him, I contacted his previous school. There was a silence followed by a long sigh, then a list of incidents that made me wonder if I could be hearing right. No, surely not. What, in front of everyone? With a what? The police, really? Oh no, not on the dual carriageway.
And is the little girl alright now?
His family was well known in our remote community. Everyone, it seemed, had some unsolicited encouragement for me. They said: "Good luck," or "Rather you than me."
I'm known to relish a challenge, but this time I didn't. Bobby and his mother turned up on Monday morning. She had a sweet, exhausted look about her, and by going-home time I knew why. Bobby wailed like a banshee for half an hour, terrifying all the other children, before she managed to leave him. He made numerous bids for freedom.
Our long-suffering (and fortunately athletic) secretary vaulted the fence and crouched in the bushes to talk him back each time. Bobby snatched and broke other children's things, used the playground as a toilet and ignored everything I said. At 3 o'clock, when I sent the stunned and confused children home, he clung to me, declaring that he loved me, and enacted the morning's drama in reverse.
Things escalated over the week. Bobby and his mother arrived late every morning and we had to witness their hysterical separation. He attacked other children for no visible reason. His temper was cyclonic and inexplicable. He smashed school property.
The first time I tried to talk to Bobby's mum, she backed out muttering something about an appointment. On the Friday, I finally managed to pin her down, and we talked. I told her, tactfully, about what I had seen and about my concerns. I felt sorry for her as she blew her nose and wiped her tears. We agreed that, for Bobby's sake and the other children's, we had to do something. I told her I would welcome any suggestions. She looked round the room and an idea came to her. "Have you thought of painting the walls pink?" she said. "It's very healing."
The writer is a supply teacher in the Highlands. Email your worst parent stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could earn #163;50 in MS vouchers.