Thank God it's Friday

29th August 2003 at 01:00
Are there bad parents or just bad times every so often?

Monday We ask each child to bring in pound;1 a week for cookery, snacks and social skill work. Most parents wonder how we manage, when their other children in mainstream schools seem to need at least pound;1 a day for vending machines. Laura, however, arrives without money as usual. She tells me that "Mam said no money". Is her mother really that impoverished, or is she expecting other people to subsidise her child and therefore "a bad parent"?

Tuesday Carl, a hyperactive child in my class, has to be peeled off the ceiling. He refused to get into the taxi that brings him to school, so his father gave him a bar of forbidden chocolate as a bribe. Is his exhausted father using the only strategy he knows will work, or is he "a bad parent"?

Wednesday A local firm has raised money so that our pupils can go to a pantomime. The performance ends two hours after the usual school day, but we can organise transport home. Sheila's mother refuses to let her go, saying she wants her home at the usual time. Does she have unbreakable commitments to her other children, or is she denying her daughter a treat and being "a bad parent"?

Thursday The forms for meningitis vaccinations have to be returned today.

Paul's hasn't been sent in, so I phone his parents. His stepfather says Paul is scared of injections, so he won't be having this one. Has he weighed up the relative risks and decided on a course of action, or is he going for the easy route and "a bad parent"?

Friday I invite my father round to watch the video of Billy Elliot with my son. We live in a former mining area, and I want my son to see something about the strike while his grandfather is alive to talk about it with him.

I have allowed my 10-year-old to watch an R15 film. Am I showing a responsible approach to teaching him about family history, or am I "a bad parent"?

The writer, who wants to remain anonymous, teaches at a special school for pupils with severe learning difficulties in the north of England

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