Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Witch By Any Other Name...

I think my youngest's teacher is a witch. Not one with black pointy hat and a toadstool growing on the end of her nose, but a witch all the same.

Last night I went to the parents' evening for his class. I had tried to go last Tuesday because he had assured me that that was when it was, and as he's usually right about such things, I believed him. Unfortunately, that was the time he got it wrong... I turned up wondering why I was the only parent around to find the teacher sitting at a desk, bespectacled, marking books. Upon seeing me, she looked up over her glasses in one of those frigid French women of a certain age ways and asked frostily if she could help.

I asked about the parents' meeting and instead of just answering with a 'no, it's next week' she went all snippy on me and said she assumed I hadn't read the 'cahier de liaison'. Well, obviously not - I don't spend my days waiting until my youngest gets home whereupon I can leap on his school-bag and fish out his cahier. This apparently makes me a bad, uncaring mother in her eyes. Like us parents have got nothing better to do with our time (like go out to work to earn the crust that pays for the rented roof over our heads and puts fresh food on the table) than be obliged to read the damned cahier Every Evening!

That was the day I declared officially that I disliked my youngest's teacher.

Yesterday I confirmed my official declaration. She was trying to do the 'caring teacher' act, greeting parents as they arrived with a handshake that enfolded you in a vice-like grip just daring you to challenge her as Boss. She was smiling, but the smile didn't reach her eyes, and she reminded me very strongly of a reptile.

She's one of those small mighty French women. Must be 55 if she's a day, with a voice that cuts glass, short 'big' hair, speaking the most impeccable French you've ever heard. All the parents were suddenly on their best regressive behaviour making every effort to speak grammatically correctly so they wouldn't get a smack...

She lacked human warmth which is why I made the association with reptiles I suppose. To impart all that she had to tell us, she read from reams of paper - the academic cursus, extra activities like sport, English and music (they'll be doing frisbee in sport at some point!), the rules and regulations, and all the things she wants to do to ensure our little darlings end the year well.

I found it very jarring, this contrast between what she read and the sincerity with which she read it. I decided to ask a question, whether my youngest could leave the school and come home by himself at the end of the day. We live 3 minutes from the school, with no major road to cross, and at the weekend, he's going down there all the time.

I detected a sharp intake of breath and she gave me the 'bad parent' look again. All I wanted to know was whether she was obliged to physically hand my son to me, or his brother or another person. There was a ruffle of disapproval amongst the other parents - what sort of a mother was I who could ask such a question. Didn't I know the Risks?

Well, the answer was 'no', she didn't have to hand him over (as they do in the class below), but she suggested that it was probably a good idea to have my son picked up. I do pick him up, or send my eldest, but at some point, he's going to be able to come home by himself, and I just wanted to know what the rules were. So now I know. There are no rules. Just moral blackmail.

Often at these meetings you get parents who just can't shut up. They ask a question, it gets answered, then they feel they have to justify why they asked it, or they repeat themselves, then that gets answered too, and they go on. It drives me nuts. There were one or two candidates for not shutting up last night, but they managed to restrain themselves. After 30minutes we were done, and I rushed out, rushed home, and put the kettle on.

Then I checked the cahier de liason...


  1. ha ha ha - I stopped going to those meetings a long time ago, Sarah!

    I always forgot to look in the cahier de liaison and eventually discovered that my wayward daughter (she was all of 10 at the time) was signing all the little notes the teacher was sending me about her work (or lack of it).

    No wonder she glared at me every time I saw her at the school gates! I felt like a naughty schoolgirl...

    Still, my daughter's doing well at collège now so she can't have been that bad...

  2. Hells Bells those ones are dreadful -

    I wonder if she has children.............

  3. The trouble is, she reminds me of some French women I really can't stand, like my ex-mother-in-law who was not the dragon type, but very definitely the witch type.

    Also, one of my eldest's teachers was like that in a former school. These women seem so immaculately turned out, and smile easily, but the smile contains no warmth and I hate that. I'd rather have the teacher my youngest had last year who was a lovely hearty-type woman who adores children, and you can see it - there's no artifice about her. She loves her job and she loves children.

    My youngest adored her. He's very 'oui, bof, ça va' about his new one.


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