Parents and the Queen Bee

I wrote this first on 01/10/2008 whilst working a double role as a special education teacher and a Year coordinator. As you'll probably gather the two roles always went hand in hand.

The phone rings in the staff room and I answer it, dreading another parent telling me something they are not happy about. I’ve just got off the phone to a Year Nine parent who has complained her son has an afternoon detention, and that it is not punishing him but it is punishing her; as she will have to alter her schedule, of horse riding, to come up to the school and collect her son. I’m beginning to think that she has missed the point of afternoon detentions completely. It’s the same old line I get from parents. “We are all support of the ( insert baby sitting) work you do Mr Black, but if it inconveniences us then we aren’t happy". I take this opportunity to mention to her that her son was throwing a piece of sharpened plastic pipe like a javelin in the vicinity of other students.

Whilst I have her I decide to inform her that her son is disruptive in class; he turns up to school looking like he has been pulled through a hedge, he rarely does any homework and he was seen with boys in Year Eleven offering cigarettes to the Year Sevens. With this mum is on the back foot and agrees with the detention and says she will be having firm words with Brian this evening.

No sooner do I hang the phone down do I get another call from reception. Mrs Hunter has dropped her daughter into school and would like to speak to me. Amy Green (surname different because mum changed her name after divorce) hasn’t been at school all week. Mum has not been able to get her out of bed. There have been ongoing issues with Amy over the past few weeks. Like all kids who come from homes where parents don’t care very much, Amy doesn’t have any boundaries. She is in Year Nine however after a falling out with the Year Nine girls she started to hang around the Year Tens and Elevens. Amy’s world revolves around her social life. School seems to always get in the way. Amy doesn’t have any adults in her life that she talks to and constantly strives to fit in amongst her peers. Not helping the situation at times is mum. A great example of this was Amy’s fourteenth birthday party a few weeks ago. The Year Elevens arrived to school on Monday morning saying, “Amy’s mum is great man. She let us drink, use the whole house, even her bedroom and Johno got so wasted he threw up all over the kitchen. Amy’s mum was cool about it though and helped clean up”. Oh great she would be so un-cool if she flew into a rage because her house was invaded by under age drinkers, making out in her bedroom and throwing up all over her kitchen floor.

Amy is a Queen Bee. The Queen Bee always has to be the centre of attention. The Queen Bee always has to be the most popular, the one everyone wants to be friends with and hang around. The Queen Bee is the one who always strives towards the dizzying heights of popularity. Unfortunately for Queen Bees like crazy dictators their reign doesn’t last forever, and the fall is often difficult to take. It’s like a king loosing his palace compared to a peasant having his house burnt down. Whilst it is devastating for both, the peasant can rebuild and get his life back on track. The Queen Bee is always a Queen Bee she can never go back to being a peasant. Therefore for a Queen Bee without a throne, she might as well just stay in bed.

Anyway life is good for Amy, except for those pesky teachers hounding her for homework and cramping my style in class. This is until last Friday. There has been growing dissent amongst the peasants and revolution is afoot. Amy’s reign is tenuous and she is holding it together by flitting from one camp to another; batting eyelids at the boys and like the crazy dictator a few knives in backs for good measure. This came to an end last Friday when she allegedly flirted a little too much with a girl’s boyfriend and the girl took offence. Like many assassinations they aren’t pretty and Amy’s saw her with a carton of chocolate milk on her head. Girls quickly close ranks and Amy is on the outer. Instead of trying to scrape together the tatters of her rule, like a crazy dictator; who has escaped the trial of crimes against humanity, she went into hiding. I hear from the Art teacher today that Amy was so quiet she didn’t even know she was there. This is compared to loud and disruptive Amy who ends up ejected from the lesson for painting red paint on her cheeks to get a laugh out of the class.

I joke about Amy being a “crazy dictator”, but in reality she is a fourteen-year-old girl who is fending for herself because mum has her own problems and has given her too much rope. You cant be a parent and a best friend, as much as some parents would like to think they can; and I’m sure you know what they say about giving enough rope.

For Amy the fall is devastating and as her only source of counselling is her ‘friends’ she feels she cannot talk to anyone. Out of desperation her mum took her to the doctor this morning to see if she would talk to him but instead she just sat there and grunted answers to his questions. I even tried to see if I could coax something from her, but again I was met with single syllable answers and grunts. Tomorrow I will get the school counsellor to have a word with her, as she needs help. The most frustrating thing is that Amy does not see that she needs help.

I’m an optimist, the positive from this is that Amy is no longer wandering the streets with kids five or even more years older than she is. Without a social life, this may be an opportunity for Amy to focus on her schoolwork instead of her destructive social life. This could be a new Amy.