Joan was smart. She was also very direct. Her many children engaged us over a long period, with varying outcomes. She knew no deference and was silently acknowledged for head-butting a local policeman, whose arrogance and boastful antics against miners during their lengthy strike no-one else was prepared to remark on. Except Joan.
This anti-authoritarian attitude came more from her personality than her background as a traveller. Once, after a special needs review meeting held in my office with teachers and local authority representatives, I stood and thanked everyone as they left. As I began to address Joan, smart in her heels, iron-creased jeans and blue-and-white striped shirt, she tapped my left shoulder, asserting, "Sit down, I want a word with you." I did as was requested.
More challenging was the day another of her sons did a runner. Struggling with his temper, he occasionally made for home. I cursed, got in the car and circled the village until the phone rang. "He's here - you'd better come and get him."
When I arrived at Joan's house, she was vacuuming and beckoned me to a chair where I had to raise my feet for her to continue the task in hand. As the machine droned, she said that I was to have a cup of tea. Then she curtly informed me, "He's sitting on the roof over the back door." We continued supping until she called to her boy, "Get in here, you're going back to school." This we both did.
When I left the school, Joan sent me a note of thanks, even acknowledging our occasional "not seeing eye-to-eye". So not necessarily a "worst parent", but definitely the most scary.
The writer is a former primary head in Northamptonshire. Send your worst parent stories to email@example.com and you could earn #163;50 in MS vouchers.