My worst parent - Praise where it was not due

7th January 2011 at 00:00

I was a new teacher working with a lively Year 2 class and eager to do things right. But as I waited with Mr G for his son, Alex, to return from hospital, I knew that our chances of having a good relationship were low. In this I was not to be disappointed.

How do you keep a conversation going with a large, menacing parent who has been accused of harming his child? The doctor's weary suggestion that Alex be assessed for ADHD did not take the edge off the situation and so began a year in which Dad tried his best to intimidate me.

Mostly this meant being late to collect his son, but arriving just before he would have to pick him up from the school office. He then demanded a daily report and responded with a list of what I was doing wrong, adding 30 minutes to the end of each day. Gradually it ground me down and sometimes the temptation to gloss over the lows in order to escape became too much.

Suggestions that a sporting activity in the evenings might channel Alex's energy were met with sneers. I was told that he was a model child at home and could sit still for hours in front of the television. This seemed less believable after Alex used his big sister's razor to shave off his own eyebrow.

On the last day of the year I sent Alex scampering across the playground towards his Dad but was surprised to see Alex heading back with a card and gift. His embarrassment was so acute he could not look at me as he went past and gave them to the learning support assistant who worked with another child in my class. Dad smirked and turned away. "To the best teacher Alex has ever had. Thank you for everything you have done for him," the card read.

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

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