Think Before You Cause A Stink About Ink

| Ashford, Kent, England, UK | Learning | March 20, 2015

(I’ve taught year-five (9/10-year olds) for nearly 10 years. However, in my youth I was a bit wild and I have a full back tattoo of a colourful garden scene. As a teacher all tattoos must be covered and, being on my back, no child has ever seen it. I am swimming when I see one of my pupils and his parents. I am called into the head teacher’s office after work the following Monday. As I walk in I see the same parents.)

Headmaster: “Miss [My Name]. I believe you know [Pupil]’s parents. We have a problem, I’m afraid.”

Me: “With [Pupil]?”

Headmaster: “No. With his parents. As I understand it they bumped into you at the pool on Saturday and they’re rather upset about an incident that occurred.”

Me: “Yes. They were coming in as I was leaving. I greeted them and [Pupil] but I had to leave.”

(I am rather confused as nothing happened. They are very smug looking which baffles me even more. The Headmaster is looking pretty ticked off and I don’t know why.)

Headmaster: “They have taken offence to your tattoo and would like something done about it.”

Me: “Erm. What are you talking about?”

Father: “I find it disgusting that you are allowed to teach looking the way you do. How can you expect to be taken seriously when you walk around like a street w****!”

Me: “I beg your pardon? I was swimming. What do you think I should wear?”

Mother: “We’re just upset about the tattoo. Is it necessary?”

(I look at them like they’re idiots and catch the Headmaster covering a smile.)

Me: “The way I see it I have two options; One: I peel my skin off, or two: I continue wearing normal clothes that cover my tattoo, like I have been for the last 10 years, and you explain to [Pupil] that people can do what they like to their own bodies and to deny them that right is not only ridiculous and massively egotistical it’s also bordering on the tyrannical and oppressive.”

Father: “We’ll, I see it’s of no use trying to reason with you.”

Me: “For what? What do you want me to do?”

Mother: “We would have liked to have known about this before.”

Me: “Know what? That members of staff have tattoos? Some have piercings. Some dye their hair. My ability to impart knowledge and care for children isn’t dependent upon how much ink I have in my skin. Would you like to know who’s married, divorced, single? Who has children and if they were conceived out of wedlock? How many pets people have?”

(They look at each other as they realise how ridiculous they are being. The pupil’s father then tries to save face.)

Father: “We’re not trying to be intrusive. We just want something done about it.”

Headmaster: “How about if ban all staff members from wearing swimwear in the school?”

Father: “This is getting us nowhere. I’ll have to see if [Pupil] can remain at this school.”

(And with that, they left. We informed our board of governors what had happened and they were just as confused as we were. The pupil did stay with us and went on to do very well in his SATs.)

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