Mother Hubbard at parent's evening

The whole process of Parent’s Evening is not, as a parent would at first have thought, for teachers and parents to meet and discuss the progress of a child. Nor is it designed to develop a structure to help and assist a child in the pursuance of their education, whatever the school letter may say.

Parent’s evenings are designed simply to torture the pupils.

It’s an effective torture. Having spent an entire day incarcerated in stuffy classrooms faced with decrepit equipment (and I’m not just talking abut the chalk-boards here!) peering, longingly out at the bright sun, the cool green grass and the free, unencumbered birds, whilst having to memorise the third declension past historic tense of an entirely useless verb of a specious language - that’s bad enough. To then find yourself walking back into that chamber of misery out of hours is just cruel.

Worse still, your shoulders, arms and legs were still imprisoned in the skin-irritating, sweat inducing strait jacket that passed for a uniform, complete with the remnants of lumpy custard and solid gravity-defying gravy attached to the noose that bore the school emblem.

And if these insults to your freedom were not enough in themselves, you were then expected to chaperone your cheesy-grinned parents round and through the labyrinthine corridors and accompany them into the presence of your various Nemeses.

As a child I could never fully understand my parent’s behaviour at these events.

After all, it wasn’t my parents who would have to sit, sweltering and embarrassed, being discussed as if they weren’t there. It wasn’t them who had to endure the inevitable and unending patronising comments about ‘behaviour within peer groups’ and ‘tendency to show distinct lack of interest’ in subjects that were so irrelevant to daily living, and of about as much interest as the domestic life of pond weed.

And, oh, the soul churning humiliation of the inevitable list of questions that appeared from the depths of the ill-fitting jacket that only saw the light of day for such exhibitions of parental ‘involvement’ in my schooling.

And why did my parents insist on those inane comments? How could they possible begin to believe that they were witty? Did they not know that for the rest of the school term, those banal and embarrassing comments would return to haunt me on a regular basis, as the teachers made paltry attempts to ‘be my friend’?

Twenty years on, as a parent all looks rather different, though....

It’s funny how much a smell can bring back to mind.

As you walk through the door, accompanied by your off-spring, it doesn’t matter that you run a multi-national company, or that you wrangle tigers for a living. Once you walk through those doors and smell that disinfectant, you are 12 once again. You’re all sweat and zits. It may, to the outside world, be your child’s performance that is being discussed, but you know it’s you that’s being graded. And it’s all you can do to not call the teachers ‘sir’, and heave a sigh of relief as you leave each room.

No wonder you pulled that jacket out of the wardrobe and wrote that list of questions so you didn’t forget what you wanted to ask and slapped that cheesy grin on your face.

After all, now you know the truth. Parents evenings are designed to torture the parents.