Dear Parent…. about ‘THAT’ child

This is a response to a brilliant piece written by a kindegarten teacher:
This is a secondary perspective…

Dear Parent,

I know you’re worried about your child having to share a classroom with THAT kid. The one who has to sit on his own because he doesn’t know how to interact with the others and pinches their stuff. The one who shows everyone her bra to get attention, even whilst I’m talking. The one who has to keep her exercise book in my desk drawer so she doesn’t lose it. The one who always has the wrong shoes and no pen. The one who gets angry when they get questions wrong and rips up their book and the work of the person sitting next to them.The one who pushes the tables and kicks the chairs when they’re reprimanded. The one who deliberately draws penises on other peoples exercise books whilst they’re trying to work or graffitis swear words on the text books. The one who called your child a ‘f***ing c*nt’ last week, in front of a teacher – for ‘no reason at all’.

You’re worried that THAT child is ruining your child’s education. You’re concerned that the time they waste borrowing a pencil or arguing about their uniform is time that I could be spending helping your child with their coursework. You’re concerned that somehow, this child will take over the agenda and your child will get lost in the chaos and never pass that exam. You’re concerned that one day THAT child will actually punch your child and break his nose.

Your child is not THAT child, not right now. Your child is okay, this term before puberty kicks in or the bullying over their acne really starts. Your child is not the child that has fallen out with everyone over Facebook AGAIN. Your child only asks to go to the toilet when they need to. Your child always does her homework on time and wears the right shoes and brings her pencil. I know you’re worried.
You’re not the only one.

What I can’t tell you is that I am not worried about the fact that this child has no pencil. I’m worried about WHY. Why does this child’s parent not realise that this child comes to school everyday without the basic tools to learn?

What I can’t tell you is that I am not worried that this kid is wearing the wrong shoes, but I am concerned that he’s been telling me for weeks that ‘mum’s getting them at the weekend’ and she hasn’t. I’m also starting to get concerned about what else Mum doesn’t buy him.

I can’t tell you that he smells so bad no one wants to sit by him.

I can’t tell you that she only shows her bra because that’s how she’s been brought up to get attention, and that’s why she’s in care.

I can’t tell you that I’m not worried that he loses his temper, I’m worried because I know he’s so frustrated – because he believes that he’s worthless and stupid because that’s what he’s be told over and over again and that he still, at the age of 15, doesn’t have a better way to deal with this than to lash out.

I can’t tell you that I’m not worried that she draws penises on your child’s book (because pencil rubs out and pen can be crossed out) but I am worried that she feels the need to deface other people’s work and I spend ages trying to figure out if it’s low self esteem or a constant need for any form of attention, or what…and if it’s that then why….

What you don’t want me to tell you is exactly what your son did to the boy who called him a ‘f***ing c*nt’ – because you would be ashamed that your son could be so callous or cruel. I am also not going to explain to you why I recommended him for in school isolation rather than a day’s suspension.

Believe me, you are not as concerned as I am.

I worry – about all the kids in all my classes, their acne, their shoes, their self-esteem. You don’t hear about the ones who curl in on themselves or cry when no one’s looking, because that isn’t interesting. You only hear about THAT kid because THAT kid makes such a show of themselves that no one can miss them.

I am only human, but I can promise you this – I care deeply about your child and their life chances and I devote endless energy (often more than your child) to their success. I will do my best to help all the kids in my care succeed and that includes THAT child because if I don’t help THAT child, she will make sure that nobody learns. If I don’t care for that child, may be no one will care for him and if I don’t put energy into THAT child maybe it’ll be your house he burgles one day.

I cannot tell you any of this. The only things I can say are:

I am doing everything I possibly can to support your child
I will continue to value all the children in my class including yours

This will not change, even if your child suddenly because one of THOSE children (which given that he/she seems to be in the same class as several of THOSE children…he/she may well do).
If your child does become one of THOSE children
I will have the same affection for and expectations of your child as I do now.
I will pick up the books from the floor and rub out the penises and talk calmly to them in detentions about what’s happening
I will listen to them
I will listen to you, I’ll even email you if you like.
I will defend them if they deserve it, but not if they don’t
I will give them the same breaks as I give the others.
I won’t ever tell you what the other children call your child or say about you in front of him. I will not give up – even if your child calls ME an f***ing c*nt in front of another teacher, because at that point your child will need me to not to.

and that’s what I’m doing for THAT child, because he’s been rejected and beaten down enough already.




4 thoughts on “Dear Parent…. about ‘THAT’ child

  1. I have tears, and I feel I have found a kindred spirit. I worked with teenagers for years, and I know how it is to love them just as much as I now love my tiny students. Thank you for this. I will share.

  2. Sorry, but no.
    I would never wish anything bad to happen to any child, and I feel desperately sorry for any kid that has to go through crap like that. But holy HELLthat does NOT mean that the other children in the classroom have to suffer along with them
    Hear me out.
    THAT child, no matter the excuses parents and techers come up with, no matter their circumstances, ends up disrupting learning for the other children. Other children are frightened of THAT child, and it’s not fair on them at all.
    Of course, it’s not fair on THAT child to be going through whatever it is that they are going through, but the fact remains, if they are a nusaince in the classroom, they should be removed. They should have one to one learning. If they can’t behave appropriately, then why the hell are teachers subjugating other children to this nonsense?
    Again, I reiterate, because I just know the white knights out there are only going to selectively read a few lines of this comment and make a moronic judgement, it is not fair on THAT kid to be going through whatever it is that makes them act up. Funny medication, a learning disability, parental divorce, it sucks and it shouldn’t influence how people act towards them.
    However, the way they act towards other people needs to be changed, and if that’s not possible, they need to do their learning elsewhere. Somewhere where they can get the attention they need, and other kids can learn in peace.
    My learning was disrupted almost every day by THAT kid, several of them in fact, over the course of my childhood. Did it affect me and my learning? Did it leave a negative impact? Of course it fucking did.
    Another thing.
    THAT kid doesn’t always have an excuse. I had a shitty fucking childhood. Parents argued every night, leading me to get three, maybe four hours sleep of a night. When my mother left my father, she went straight into another abusaive relationship, so I now had TWO evil, controlling, twisted men to deal with, with the added stress of a divorce and all these horrid legal proceedings and uncertainty and fear.
    Did I act up? Like hell I did, I knew better. Oh, how old was I? Must have been a teenager at least.
    I was six.
    Six years old and I knew how to behave.
    So feel sorry for THAT kid, do what you can to make their life better, support them, be there for them, because you might be the only one who does.
    But for the love of god, don’t inflict them on other kids until they learn how to behave. And don’t think that just because they’re a little turd it means something’s wrong at home.

    • Thank you for your reply. I’m sorry you had a difficult childhood. I read your reply carefully before passing any judgement. My favourite part was when you implied that teachers are deliberately inflicting damaged children on the other kids in their classes. Do you honestly think that teachers wouldn’t prefer these damaged children to have the help and support they desperately need? And not just because having one of THOSE kids in your class is knackering, and you feel constantly guilty about the rest of the kids having to put up with them.
      There is a big difference between excuses and reasons. Some children come to school equipped to learn and already loved, other children come to school with nothing… and until someone funds projects where those kids can be properly looked after then they are stuck in a mainstream system that is massively underfunded and manifestly ill-suited to their needs. As teachers we have only one option – do the best we can for that child. That doesn’t mean not telling them off and it doesn’t mean not applying consequences but that doesn’t treat the root cause of the poor behaviour. It helps them manage it but it doesn’t fix it.Some naughty children come from okay families – they are not THAT child. THAT child is damaged by the adult around them – as you clearly have been. Different people respond differently to situations. It’s just as well, because someone has to reach out and love those kids instead of saying ‘well I never behaved like that’.

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