Tears, tantrums, questioning and nervous giggling. Ah, yes, the joys of Parent's Evening and that's just from the teacher's side of the desk.
It wasn't until last night that being on the other side of the desk, in the parents' seat (or next to the teacher on one of those tiny toddler chairs in my case) did I fully realise that it was a hundreds time worse for a mam, dad or carer. I came home with cold sweats and Bethan's first school report not to mention sore buttocks from bum clenching on a tiny seat for half an hour that could just about hold one of my ample arse cheeks.
At 3 years old, I thought I would take Bethan's first 'parent's evening' with a pinch of salt. However, after reading her 'Reflection Journal' and having a chat with the lady who observes her objectively in a play school environment, I got a taste of what is to come. Subsequently, I realised that it wasn't what was said but my reactions to my daughter's progress that made me feel well and truly out of my comfort zone.
I assumed that having done parent's evenings on the teacher's side of the desk for over 10 years that I would know how I would react having seen a whole host of reactions from the sublime to the ridiculous. However, I felt sensitive, guilty, over-protective and judged even though I have a very good relationship with Beth's Key Worker. The majority of what was said I couldn't help but agree with and as usual, the ladies gave me some great advice and reassurance; however, it just took one reasonably negative comment and I couldn't let it go. Having taught teenagers all day and having a tantrum-filled evening with my own kids meant that I was completely exhausted and would probably have taken things out of context anyway.
Nevertheless, as I walked through the door to fill Rob in on what was said, this huge realisation that this parenting business meant I was responsible for the social, physical and emotional development of someone that I love more than life, absolutely pole-axed me. Even the cold crisp glass of wine that I had been looking forward to all day couldn't settle my nerves.
Yes, my nerves. These often lead to my foot in mouth disorder whereby I start giggling nervously and say something completely inappropriate and vaguely humorous which often makes the listener feel uncomfortable and confused. In this case the recipient of my verbal disorder was Beth's teacher. I started wittering on as my bum was getting number about how I would write a parenting book and it was probably get to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers' List. You can imagine the deathly silence and wind howling that followed that unbelievably stupid comment but honestly, it really is a reaction to having bad nerves.
Following my completely unexpected reaction last night, I was slightly worried about how I would get on at the Pre-School Easter Activities Morning where I had volunteered to help. I was sure that I would witness a group of toddlers and parents who had it sussed and that I would be stood there with a huge Belisha Beaon on my head that said, "I am crap at this - any ideas, please help!". It wasn't; it was absolutely fine although I found myself people-watching even more so than usual just to see what other people do.
As ever at the end of pre-School, I was handed a piece of artwork that Bethan had done. I have that many but I feel completely guilty about binning some of the less impressive ones. As a result, my kitchen wall is full of a host of multi-coloured pieces of Bethan art. In fact, the whole wall could be considered an abstract, post-modern work of art and be placed alongside Tracy Emin's bed at The Tate Modern.
Mind you, they would never be appreciated by the likes of Brian Sewell which doesn't bother me at all; the love and the joy that has gone into them always makes me smile.