Diary - My worst parent - Family misfortune

18th September 2009 at 01:00

Martyn was a nice kid, his mum somewhat embittered by her husband's early death. Things weren't helped by the fact they moved in with Auntie, who had been a teacher before she took early retirement. An extremely early retirement, and we wondered about that.

Martyn had dyslexic tendencies. He hadn't been diagnosed until he was in Year 6, by which time Auntie had just about hammered in all the nails in his coffin. Seeing herself as "the expert", she insisted on coming to all meetings. Mum became more and more cowed as Auntie demanded to know why we weren't doing anything about his punctuation. She proudly announced that she helped him with his homework. Martyn stared glumly ahead.

Martyn's absences became more frequent, usually due to stress-induced sore tummies, and when he did come in, his depression was marked.

Then Mum arrived with a huge list. Martyn needed a scribe in all his classes and a laptop. We had already arranged alternative assessment arrangements, but according to Mum, they weren't enough. Auntie had read a book about dyslexia.

There was no doubt that Martyn had dyslexic tendencies, but actually he was quite competent. If Auntie had just been a bit more positive and supportive, and if Mum had been a bit less angry, he probably would have coped better.

Then Mum got ill and Auntie buggered off to her friend's house rather than look after Martyn full-time, so he went into temporary care. Within weeks, he had perked up. His clothes got a bit trendier and with the pressure off, his school attendance improved. He was never going to be a brain surgeon, but his progress was noticeable.

When Mum got better, she got her own house, and Martyn eventually went back to live with her. Meetings without Auntie interfering were much more productive and her brush with death had helped Mum get a better perspective on life - not to mention her meddlesome relative.

The writer is a Skills for Life teacher from Angus. Send your worst parent story to features@tes.co.uk and you could earn #163;50 in MS vouchers if it's published.

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