"Mother smells of alcohol" on Friend's DS's school file.

(87 Posts)
PegBasket Wed 28-Mar-12 19:51:32

(I've namechanged for this as I would not want anyone to recognise me or my friend).

I need a little advice on behalf of a friend. Our children are in Reception together in a smallish village school.

My friends DS broke his pelvis in an accident in the playground about 2 months ago. The DS has healed well and is now back at school in the morning only and my friend has to stay with him which is all fine. She works in a local pub and has been able to fit that round her shifts. She has been joining in in class activities, helping out where needs be, but is primarily there to help her DS go to the loo etc. So she is un-paid by the school obviously, not CRB checked and is there purely voluntarily so that her DS doesn't miss too much school afterbeing in hospital for weeks etc.

This morning, as my friend was leaving the school with her DS after the morning there, the Reception teacher pulled her to one side and said she had smelled alcohol on her. My friend protested saying thats can't be true as she is practically tee-total, (which I know 100% to be true). She said it was a child protection issue and as such would have to be reported to the Head. The Head then said to my friend, who was protesting all the while, that this would have to go on her DSs "school file", whatever that is. The Head also said this is not the first time it has been noted that she smelled on alcohol. (She drinks Red Bull a lot and smokes, which might smell a bit alcohol-y?)

My friend is distraught, no amount of telling them she was not a drinker, (for such reasons as she works in a pub till closing time several nights a week (her DH is at home then) and has to drive home from there, but also is on medication for somethng else which prohibits her drinking, but even after all that she is just Not A Drinker). In all ways she is a great mum, who puts her DS absolutely first, and he is sweet, polite, bright, and has impeccable manners.

She told me about this in tears earlier today. I think its completely unnacceptable to have something on her DSs file about his mothers suitability as a parent, suspecting her of being an alcoholic or something when its absolutely not true, especially when she isn't even in the school on any kind of professional capacity other than to look after her son.

I am sure I have dropped off my DS several times, reeking of wine from a night with various other mums from school the night before, all of us laughing about being hungover or whatever. But then I am a drinker and my friend IS NOT! I have never been stopped and told, "excuse me you smell of alcohol and it needs putting on your sons file".

Is there anything she can do to get this removed from her DSs file? Is there anything "sinister" about it being on the file, either for now or the future? What should she do?

Thanks for any advice you may be able to give that I can pass on.

StringOrNothing Sun 08-Apr-12 11:08:35

This is eye-opening. I never have alcohol at lunchtime if I'm going to oick up the DCs from school, regardless of the occasion, because I'm worried that I'd be judged to high heaven by anyone who smelled it in my breath, and I've always been told by friends/colleagues/MNers that I was being paranoid and it was totally unnecessary.

Seems I was right all along.

I think that someone who's been working in a pub the night before and hasn't washed her hair might well smell detectably of stale alcohol the next morning.

jubilee10 Sun 08-Apr-12 11:18:31

You say this is not the first time she has been noted to have been smelling of alcohol. If things are exactly as you say she should see her GP and explain the situation to them. She should ask that if this is flagged up by the school again could she pop in to the surgery for a blood test which would show that there is no alcohol in her blood. She should then put this to the school in writing asking that it be included in her son's file. She should let the school know that if at any time she smells of alcohol they must alert her immediately and tell them of her arrangement.

If it were me I would also be asking them to arrange for a carer for the little boy.

budgieshell Sun 08-Apr-12 11:41:51

Are we as parents allowed to read these records? I would have thought the school would have to let us read them if we asked.

I wonder if this teacher has jumped to conclusions about your friend because she smokes and works in a pub (must be an alcholic).

I am sure some of the other mums at your school would be concerned if the teachers where jumping to conclusions and putting it in writing (spread the word).

Agree with some other comments about flagging up concerns about childrens welfare but they are usually based on the childs behaviour and well being not just what mum smells like.

PS. Wish I had a friend like you looking out for me.

catsareevil Sun 08-Apr-12 11:43:09

Where is the evidence that they have jumped to conclusions? They are saying that she smells of alcohol, not that she works in a pub, or smokes.

differentnameforthis Sun 08-Apr-12 11:43:17

I think that someone who's been working in a pub the night before and hasn't washed her hair might well smell detectably of stale alcohol the next morning

Only if said hair had alcohol poured over it...imo.

jubilee10 Sun 08-Apr-12 12:14:00

I often have a glass of wine if I go out for lunch on a thursday ( my day off) I would then pick ds up so I wonder what is written on my file? I only ever drink one glass but it would smell the same as ten!

SophieNeveau Sun 08-Apr-12 12:23:43

Too many professionals are scared of loosing their jobs or being sued now a days. I wonder if the report would have been noted if the teacher was not worried about covering her back.

In this situation I would look into sueing school for the accident and move my child to another school.

1950sHousewife Sun 08-Apr-12 12:32:14

Sophie - what would you do, as a professional, if you smelt alcohol on a parent and it worried you? The teacher is probably genuinely worried, not 'covering her back'. I can tell you, it's unsettling to smell alcohol on a parent when you know they are having to look after a child. (see my post above)

As for the playground accident, no wonder that professonals are afraid of being sued, when people are encouraged to sue if their children are harmed in the slightest way on their watch. I agree that breaking a pelvis seems a big injury, but short of taking away all the playground equipment (as they are starting to do in many schools), there is no way of preventing injuries.

My friends DD fractured her arm badly by falling off the monkey bars. I glad the parents attitude was 'accidents happen', not 'sue the bastards' as my own dd loves those monkey bars and the school is struggling with repairs and resources as it is.

SophieNeveau Sun 08-Apr-12 12:57:28

I would never be a teacher, I don't feel attracted to control freak, put others down professions, like teaching, police, law etc.

I wouldn't advocate sueing normally, I would be so outraged as that parent, that it would make me change my attitude.

I was very much a head down, controlled person, it made me very unhappy. I then realised a lot of people in positions of power seeing as psychologists estimate 1 in four is a psychopath/sociopath, sources from BBC Horizon can be very damaging, and I don't look up to or bow to them anymore.

edam Sun 08-Apr-12 13:00:56

They've jumped to conclusions by putting 'Mother smells of alcohol' in the file without bothering to ask basic questions such as 'is there a legitimate reason?' By putting in the file, they are recording it as a concern, when it is no such thing. It's a slur on an innocent woman.

1950sHousewife Sun 08-Apr-12 13:03:01

Try this then, as a 'non-control freak' caring parent, what if one of the parents was smelling of alcohol at strange times, would you just keep your head down then? Wouldn't you care just a little bit about the care of that child?

BTW - I don't think teachers go into the profession for the control part. Honestly, getting 30 6 year olds under your control is not a buzz, I'm pretty sure of it. And I'm fairly sure most teachers wouldn't recognise your assessment of being a 'putting down' profession. My sis in law is a teacher and she is a kind, caring person who loves teaching. Sorry your experiences weren't good, but it's strange to assume motivations for entire professions.

SophieNeveau Sun 08-Apr-12 13:07:30

I am not assuming, psychologists estimate 1 in 4, in such professions have what is now renamed antisocial personality disorder, what were called sociopaths/psycopaths who lack empathy and go out of their way and delight in harming others, it is 1 in 10 occurance of coming into contact in the regular population. Do the Math!

edam Sun 08-Apr-12 13:07:38

Not if the parent worked in a pub, no (unless it was obviously on their breath). Jumping to conclusions without checking is irresponsible and could be extremely damaging.

Thumbbunny Sun 08-Apr-12 13:16:48

If the OP's friend is relatively young and already on drugs for osteoporosis, there may be some heritable condition of osteoporosis/fragile bones in her family, that her DS may also be suffering from, which could explain why he broke his pelvis in a playground accident. <<speculating>>

1950sHousewife Sun 08-Apr-12 13:17:15

It's an interesting statistic. I think the way you put it before was a little twee with the crossing out. I would love to see the link.

Perhaps then, instead of opting to not go into one of those kinds of profession, people like you should choose to do that kind of profession to ensure the numbers of psychopaths are kept down?

And you didn't answer my question, how would you handle this problem. As said, I'm going through it right now myself and frankly, there is a definite smell on this father's breath of alcohol and it scares me shitless to see the little girl going back in the car with him

As the daughter of a mum who was a functioning alchoholic who lied, disguised and gave many, many excuses as to why she smelt of alcohol, and who should have been flagged by the authorities, I am glad there are a few 'control freaks' out there. Had they been more aware with my mum, she could have got the help she needed sooner.

D0oinMeCleanin Sun 08-Apr-12 13:17:48

When I worked in pub I always smelt of booze, but then I was clumsy oaf and spilt drip drays on myself hourly, at least.

SophieNeveau Sun 08-Apr-12 13:20:00

There would be more clues than a smell going on you would pick up as a friend as OP is, or as a parent helped, the only issues is a smell!

I wouldn't want to spend time with aspd people.

SophieNeveau Sun 08-Apr-12 13:21:56
McFluffster Sun 08-Apr-12 13:24:27

Quite frankly it's terrifying that the school can make notes about something like this when it isn't true and turn a mistake/fabrication into a child protection issue.

1950sHousewife Sun 08-Apr-12 13:24:52

Not necessarily more clues Sophie.
I'm sure a great deal of people had no idea my mum was/is an alcoholic and would be shocked to find out she was. Sometimes the only clue is a small one. My mum was well dressed, well spoken, carried out her job, took care of us as a mum but was constantly necking vodka. She needed help but because she was functioning and hidden, it was hard to tell.

The smell of a drinker can be obvious, and smelling it three times when he has come to pick her up sends off huge warning bells in my head. I am frightened the next clue might be a car accident with the DD in the car because the dad is drink driving.

1950sHousewife Sun 08-Apr-12 13:26:41

Thanks for that. It looks interesting. But it still means that 3 in 4 of these people are not psychopaths, so no need to tar them all with the same brush.

SophieNeveau Sun 08-Apr-12 13:27:43

So if your Mother was functioning, what is the issue here? passing on addiction behaviours?

SophieNeveau Sun 08-Apr-12 13:29:42

ASPD is just one of the other 3 in 4 you will have many a co-dependant, npd people will alson be attracted to that profession to name a few. Birds of a feather flock together!

1950sHousewife Sun 08-Apr-12 13:34:16

You have no idea how silly that question sounds to the child of an alcoholic, do you?
I am not going to engage any more with you about this.
Issue? Long term heath problems? Driving drunk with children in the car? Just because you are functioning doesn't mean there are not problems. No person can be an alcoholic without the problem coming crashing to a head somewhere. In the end she had a haemorrhage which she managed to recover from, only to end up having a breakdown.

There are thousands of people like my mum, who turn up at schools, at work, at toddler groups who had been drinking abnormal amounts of alcohol, who are damaging themselves and those around them. The term functioning alcoholic is perhaps not a good one. Perhaps the words 'slow car crash' are better ones.

I'm getting off this thread, I don't want to hijack it and it's a lovely Easter Sunday.

OP - sorry for hijacking. I hope your friends problem comes to a resolution soon.

SophieNeveau Sun 08-Apr-12 13:36:41

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