I was very nervous. I was not comfortable about sharing my private life with the school, particularly to tell them that Kay's father was an alcoholic. It was quite something for me to think it privately: a whole different ballgame to admit it to others. It meant it was real; not a figment of my imagination. Not a nightmare, even. I wondered whether it would make things better for Kay, if the teachers knew, or worse. Would they laugh at her? Pick on her? Pity her? The overriding factor here was surely that THEY thought Kay was not putting in the hours for her A-level work and I wanted to put them straight about why. Not Kay's fault at all. Far from it. I must not lose sight of that. That is what gave me the courage to walk up the entrance steps to the reception and ask to see Mrs Richards, the Head of Sixth Form, with whom I had an appointment. When she appeared, she led me up to her office, chatting as she did so about the fact that the exam season had just started and the school was extra-quiet. Her demeanour also suggested she was not quite sure what my visit was about, as I had not mentioned it in my request for a meeting . Her body language seemed to suggest I might be there to complain about something. I was so nervous, I suppose my body language was saying that I was not looking forward to speaking to her at all. Once inside her office, we sat down and she looked quizzically at me to begin.
I blurted it all out. I had made notes (I'm a great one for lists - I am renowned for them) and I worked my way through the points I had listed. I quickly gave her the background to the last few years. I said I was worried about the effect of Greg's behaviour on Kay's work, about the wrong impression Kay's performance might give the teachers and how it might affect her chances of doing the course she wanted at university. Kay had only ever wanted to do one thing as a career since she was very small and Greg stood in the way of that. I could not forgive him or myself for standing by and doing nothing to stop him, if Kay was not given a fair chance to achieve her dream. My voice ended up getting a bit wobbly and I inevitably ended up crying. I tried not to, but certain bits of my story always set me off. Mrs Richards was very sympathetic. She reassured me I was not the first parent or probably the last to have come to her over this sort of thing. She said she would mention the problem to the teachers who taught Kay and make sure they took this into consideration. She would also mention it to the Head who ought to be kept informed in case she somehow unwittingly put her foot in things when talking to Kay. She also suggested that Kay talk to a counsellor who comes to the school once a week, as this would surely help her.
All in all, as we ended the meeting and returned to the reception some 45 minutes after I had arrived, I felt a lot better about what I had done. In fact, I almost wished I had done it much sooner in the school year, so that the staff would have had more of an inkling. But I also felt very guilty. About betraying Greg. About what he would say, if he knew what I had done. Not that I was going to tell him yet. Not until after Kay's exams, at least, as I did not want to make things even worse until they were out of the way.
That afternoon, I met Kay from school and we went to the park and sat on the grass. She had known I was going to see Mrs Richards and wanted to know how I had got on. When I had relayed how the meeting went, Kay lay back on the grass and visibly relaxed. Both she and I were pleased that our secret was out in the open now. We felt a great weight had been lifted from our shoulders.We didn't have to pretend any more or watch what we said. Kay now vowed to tell her close circle of friends that evening, as they were meeting up for a girlie night out at a restaurant. I knew that she needed to open up and confide in them, because bottling things up had not been good for her either. Up to now I had always asked her to keep it secret, as people might not understand and because I felt it would betray Greg or destroy our privacy. But things had gone beyond that now. It was about our self-preservation.