I’ll be giving one copy of this to Dave’s teacher and one to the Deputy Principal in the morning. Names have been vagued up to assuage my conscience, there are no innocents to protect. Also, I am never going along as helper parent on an excursion with this year group again….
Thursday Oct 15th 2007
To whom it may concern,
This account documents my experiences on, and subsequent to, the Year 4 excursion on Wednesday Oct 24th to the Sydney Wildlife World. I found the behaviour of M**** and M*** extremely distressing to myself and embarrassing for the school. I feel it is important that it be very clear exactly what did and didn’t happen and that the best way to do so is in writing.
When we arrived at Wildlife World it was immediately clear that M**** and M*** both resented being separated from their other friends. It was my understanding that there was good reason for that separation and I felt obliged to honour that intent by keeping them separate from the other groups. I endured a series of difficult behaviours from them including: dragging behind/running ahead of the group, hiding from me, arguing with me, squealing and making other loud noises – particularly in the nocturnal section, throwing themselves around, banging on the glass of the animal enclosures, lying down and refusing to move and trying to grab butterflies out of the air in the butterfly aviary. I was patient but firm with them. I was occasionally able to engage with them in discussion about the wildlife displays but the good moments were very brief. I found their attitude towards me, the members of the public and the animals reprehensible; they seemed to have a total lack of empathy.
At one point I attempted to break the ice with them and said I didn’t want to have to tell *David’s teacher* that they had been a “pain in the arse”. Unfortunately they were not amenable to friendly overtures and seized upon this comment as ammunition in their campaign to provoke me claiming that I’d be sued when they “dobbed me in for swearing at them”. I told them I’d be telling *David’s teacher* the truth about how things had been, which I duly did, including the risqué and perhaps ill-advised expression I had used.
*David’s teacher* requested that the boys write an apology to me, which they did once we had returned to the bus. It was delivered to me in the form of a paper aeroplane, admittedly by hand. I presume they thought better of throwing it at me in front of the teachers. I did not find the apology to be even remotely sincere and it included a blatant falsehood.
Here’s the text of that note (original attached):
“To Mrs *M*
Sorry for our behaviour but we still don’t think you should of called us A-holes
from M**** and M***”
When David came home from school on Thursday he recounted to me what had taken place in class with *the librarian*. She told the boys that she had heard what had happened the day before and was not pleased with them. They then repeated, in front of the class, the false accusation that I had “called them A_holes”.
David was then asked
by *the librarian* by his classmates* whether or not this was true. David had not been within hearing distance when the exchange characterised by the boys as me swearing at them, and which I presume inspired the lie, took place. I had not discussed with David anything about my distressing day as I believed it would have been unethical to criticise his peers to him. I now regret that decision because David’s response to *the librarian’s* question was based purely on rumours he had heard from other children, presumably originating from M**** and M**. He therefore answered in the affirmative. I found this to be extremely upsetting, as did David once he understood the truth of the matter.
I doubt it is possible to correct the false version of events now circulating among the student population. However I am very concerned that the staff and parents involved be correctly informed. I would also appreciate a genuine written apology from M**** and M**, both for their behaviour on the excursion and for the offensive nature of the note I received on the bus.
*Whatdayaknow, a 10 year old boy does not always give accurate testimony. After talking to her on Thursday morning *the librarian* is absolved of putting Dave on the spot. Still the damage was the same and I was glad to be able to make sure she knew the true story.