My worst parent - Reunited with a former nemesis

8th April 2011 at 01:00

I was well into my teaching career when I reluctantly decided to up sticks and apply for a job in my home town. The reasons were more personal than professional - I had a frail parent to keep an eye on.

The new job was not a problem. I settled in and even looked forward to seeing old friends who hadn't left the area. Little did I know that I would also be reacquainted with a former nemesis.

My pupils came from some challenging backgrounds. One of the worst - a total bully - came from a family who were, I was told, notorious in the neighbourhood. I was warned not to cross them.

But her behaviour was downright unacceptable and I soon had to speak to the mother. This was a fearsome woman who could well have earned a good living as a nightclub bouncer - and probably did.

We faced each other across the desk. A torrent of insults ensued, but I was ready for this; I'm not exactly a soft-touch myself. What I wasn't ready for was her final comment: "I never liked you when you were a kid, and I should have sorted you then."

Suddenly it came back to me: this was the girl who had bullied me at school, plus three kids and about seven stone. She had once made my life a misery - and now history was repeating itself.

Well, they say you should stand up to bullies (something I had failed to do 20 years earlier) and that is exactly what I did. No, I didn't dispatch her with a timely left-hook (if only ...) but nor did I back down. I was a model of professional assertiveness; she may have had the size, but I definitely had the authority.

She could have become my worst parent, but I had grown up. I had moved back, but I had also moved on.

The writer is a primary school teacher. Send your worst parent stories to features@tes.co.uk. Those published will receive #163;50 in MS vouchers.

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