I was approaching my first parents' evening with anxiety. I had bonded well with my Year 7 class, except for one: Lanni. Lanni's father was a renowned psychiatrist and I wasn't convinced that I would be able to fool him.
I struggled to understand my feelings. Lanni was a bright, cheerful girl, but she seemed over-confident. There was also something about her self image that I found irritating. Like the others, she turned up to school in black trousers and sweatshirt, but she seemed overly casual about her possessions and the quality of her written work, in stark contrast to the other girls in her group.
I even looked up Lanni's file in the office. The only thing that I noted was her odd middle name.
The day before parents' evening I found Lanni's denim jacket on my classroom floor. Sighing, I went to find her form teacher. Handing over the item, I said: "Lanni left her jacket in my room. Again." The form teacher asked me to repeat what I'd said. He then uttered the line that still chills my blood: "Lanni is a boy."
I bluffed my way out of it, and I think the form teacher believed me because he wanted to, but parents' evening was hard. I had to pause before every pronoun and I kept repeating Lanni's name as if to reassure myself that I knew who ... he was. Lanni's father became abrupt and went away thinking I was a fool. After that, nothing about Lanni bothered me. Even the middle name, Ezra.
The writer is a head of English at a school in Norwich.