A school's tribute to my excellent parenting skills

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It's Wonderful that my life-partner Chris is around - back for two weeks from Namibia - as we've been called in to see the children's head. I'm thrilled that we can use some of our quality time as a couple to work on a good relationship with the kids' teachers.

Our relations with the school have been a bit up and down since I made my stand on uniform. I knew Timon and Esme would be inhibited by the sad blue and grey skirts and shorts, so I sent them off in jeans and brightly coloured T-shirts. "I don't want my children to be more bricks in the wall," I explained to the headmaster. Frankly, I doubt he even got the Pink Floyd reference. Instead, he got quite aggressive and summoned the education authorities. After I had made repeated visits to the school - he refused to come for help at my clinic - he gave way. "Well done," I shouted after he'd ushered me out of his door the last time. "You've finally let go of your dominant male need to bend those weaker than yourself into conformity."

But the other day I was very upset when I found a grey skirt and a blue pullover in Esme's lunch box. "What are these clothes doing here?" I said in a soothing but firm voice.

"I'm borrowing them from Sophie. Everybody else wears them," she said.

"Do you want to be just another cog in the wall, Esme? Another brick in the wheel? Don't you want to be Your Own Person?" I said, removing the clothes and making a mental note to lend Sophie's mum my book, Parenting The Individual.

Timon, who is less insecure, has benefited enormously from being uniform- free. He loves wearing his "Mad Max" shirt and I've heard from several mums that his self-assertion skills have blossomed as a result.

But I had to complain to the headmaster about Toy Day, when the children are allowed to bring in their own toys. I told him that Toy Day was turning the kids into Toy Imperialists. Esme came back from school crying: "Everybody else had dolls. Nobody liked my cardboard-box garage."

Timon was also crying. "Josh had a Power Rangers gun." My reply was soothing but firm: "I don't believe in gushing sentimentality for girls. I don't believe in symbols of military aggression for boys."

Last week I found myself having to draw another picture for the head illustrating the negative side of literacy skills. I'm not anti-books as such but I'm a great believer in Direct Experience for children. I've hidden cake recipes from Timon and personally overseen Esme flush the instructions for her aeroplane assembly kits down the toilet.

Mum: "How can you ever break out of the conforming mould and find your inner self if you're always following instructions?"

Timon: "This cake's like a paving stone."

Mum: "Isn't it wonderful that every cake is an individual in its own right?"

We drove to school as a family, which I thought would be a good time for Spontaneous and Carefree Chat in a Controlled Environment. On this occasion Esme was busy reassembling soggy pieces of instructions and Timon was feeling not very positive after I told him he couldn't wear his gun holster to school. We had a Calming Silence Together.

The head was sitting behind his desk when we arrived. When will he learn not to put barriers between himself and the rest of the world? He was sitting with his arms and legs crossed, body language which spells one word: extremely unreceptive.

Head: "We must talk about Timon, Mr and Mrs Sinclair..."

Mum: "Chris and Penny, please. Though we were married for organisational reasons 10 years ago we consider ourselves equal life-partners."

Chris: "Penny, let him have his say."

Mum: "Are you trying to undermine our partnership of equality with male aggression, Chris?"

Head: "...I don't think we can keep Timon as he is."

Mum: "We don't want him put up a class. We're not pushy parents. I'm a professional in the world of child psychiatry. Every child needs to be with his or her own peer group."

Chris: "But if he really is cleverer than the others..."

Mum: "By disagreeing with me, Chris, you are revealing your guilt at being a Partially Absent Parent. Why not just say 'sorry'?"

Head: "If I might step in for a second. I wanted to suggest that Timon requires individual tuition. He must be kept away from his class-mates as much as possible."

I was over the moon. I took this as a tribute to my skills in Parenting The Individual. The other parents were thrilled, too. Hugo's mother was cock-a-hoop. It's wonderful that other mums can share my joy in giving due recognition to a Gifted Child.

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