They can make or break you.

She knew she had been naughty, that she hadn’t completed her work.

She had been sent out of the classroom after being screamed at, made to wait ten minutes and then hauled back and given five minutes to write a speech, which she did.

After presenting to the class on the teacher’s orders she made her way back to her seat.

“That was pathetic” spat the teacher

and with that started the spiral into tears and self doubt and how I found her.

I was running late and another Mum was comforting her.

I felt terrible but at that stage did not know the story. The parade went on and Lily’s smile came back.

At the end of the parade, as we were leaving she opened up and told me the story and I thought I would have a quiet word with her regular teacher (the screamer was a substitute) at the beginning of term. I am not the best at confrontation.

The mum who had looked after Lily for me, explained that this substitute was awful to all of the children and that many of the kids were struggling, not wanting to go to school.

As we wandered down the path, Lily told me about the teacher saying that her work had been pathetic.

I saw red.

How dare an adult tell a ten year old child that her efforts were pathetic.

Is it just me or is pathetic a really strong word?

A hurtful word.

So, I marched right up to Lily’s regular teacher and told her I needed her to phone me when she was less busy – she was acting Principal so I knew she didn’t have time for me right then. Besides that, I was so cranky, I was shaking.

At home I took stock, told Lily she was anything but pathetic. She already knew she had done wrong but that was not the issue.

Not for me.

I just can’t understand how a grown up could say that to a child, how she could make a kid feel so awful about herself

and then I got to thinking; teacher’s they can make or break you.

I don’t know about you but there are two types of teachers I remember, the really good ones and the really horrible ones.

Right off the bat I can remember my second grade teacher, Mrs McIntosh, who was the best thing to ever happen to me. She lifted me up, shaped me, saw all of my good parts.

When you come from a home, with a father who tells you that you are a piece of dirt on a regular basis, to have someone tell you are beautiful and talented and special, well, it’s wonderful

but then there are all the horrible, hurtful teachers. The 4th grade teacher, who made “BOOM! BOOM!” noises as I lumbered down the oval for the compulsory long jump, just so all the boys and sporty girls could have a good old laugh at me. He laughed too and the 5th grade teacher, who told me I was not allowed to dance the Maypole in the class item, in the school concert because I was too fat and I would ruin the dance.

The teacher who never liked me because she thought I smelled and made me stand in a corner one afternoon because I hadn’t participated in craft. She called the Principal, who quickly dismissed me when he discovered my arm was actually broken (I had tried to tell the teacher but it fell on deaf ears).

All the teachers who turned a blind eye to the terrible bullying that I suffered through, day after day, after day.

I hated primary school. Every single day was awful and I let those horrible teachers hurt me. I let them beat my confidence down until there was nothing left.

I won’t let it happen with my children though.

Maybe, because of all of those horrible teachers, I found the confidence to turn around.

I spoke with Lily’s teacher, who said she would talk to the substitute and I’m hoping that tonight, that teacher will think about what she said and how she upset a child for a one minute speech.

Lily is not perfect, nobody is but she is beautiful and talented and she is certainly not pathetic.