b3ta.com qotw
You are not logged in. Login or Signup
Home » Question of the Week » Helicopter Parents » Post 519623 | Search
This is a question Helicopter Parents

Back when young ScaryDuck worked in the Dole office rather than simply queuing in it, he had to deal with a claimant brought in by his mum. She did all the talking. He was 40 years old.

Have you had to deal with over-protective parents? Get your Dad to tell us all about it.

(, Thu 10 Sep 2009, 15:13)
Pages: Popular, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

« Go Back

Bert, the most unforgettable character I have ever met.
I'm the only surviving child, my sister and brother died in infancy. I must be about the only Australian who can't swim. A friend of my mother drowned in a flood when I was just a little tacker so any mention of deep water gave her the shivers. I was never given the chance to learn. Apart from that, there was no pool and the local river near our little bush town was too thick to drink and too thin to plough. So there's another excuse.

But for all that her hovering didn't approach the levels I see here. So this story is about Bert. I won't give you his surname, you'll only laugh. Well, all right, it was "Hoare".

I first met Bert when I my parents moved to a new city and sent me to the local boarding school as a day boy. He buttonholed me on the first day.

Imagine a large head, nearly albino-blonde hair cut with a basin and clippers, plastered down with Brylcreem, a pale complexion that had hardly ever seen the Sun decorated with a couple of strategically placed moles. Add thick, thick spectacles, both eyes palest, washed out blue and one of them turned slightly so you were never quite sure which way he was looking.

You could have tolerated it if he kept his distance. But he stood a hand's breadth from you as he rattled on about something or other and if he thought your attention was wavering he'd touch your shoulder. Occassional flecks of spit leapt across from full lips. Put all this on top of a chicken neck, narrow shoulders, wide hips clad in the ugliest and most old fashioned shorts his mother could have found, skinny white legs and you can see the attraction.

After a few minutes I managed to escape and later I was told about him. He was a full 18 months older than most of the rest of the class, which made him close to 19. He'd been kept back a year in primary school, being slightly younger then, and this year was repeating his final year at secondary school as he had not matriculated last attempt. He was still bottom of the class.

His parents ran a furniture shop "The Home of Chrome", that was next door to the biggest cinema in town. They belonged to some odd sect and never let Bert out of their sight except to go to school. Bert had never been to the pictures. He was the only one in the class driven to school and picked up afterward, though his home was little more than a mile from the school.

The end of the final year came, I matriculated pretty well, nothing brilliant but more than adequate. Somebody told me that Bert had failed again and was now studying with a crammer. I flunked first year at university, got a bank job then a rather well paid laboratory job, all board and lodging heavily subsidised. I saved heaps of money since I didn't drink much and stopped gambling after a bad bet on a horse. Bastard totalisators.

Five years later I enrolled for a chemistry degree at a polytechnic as a mature age student. Start of fourth semester I walked around a corner and there was Bert coming the other way. He was wearing the school blazer, a maroon-red affair with the school crest on the pocket. Shit. I quickly selected reverse. But it did no good. Bert had transferred from another polytechnic to mine and was in my lecture group. Aw, strewth, not him again.

In six years he had just managed to matriculate, had been to three different tertiary instutions, been kicked out of all three for gross failure and had just managed to complete a first year and a half of a chemistry degree, picking up bare passes here and there. When the women saw him they quickly disappeared, so most of the blokes tried to as well.

He failed a trial examination and showed me his examination paper, asking what I thought was wrong with it. It was written with a beautiful copperplate hand. His answer was better than mine for that question. But he only answered two of eight questions. Got good marks on them though. I advised him to write rather more quickly and if short of time, put his answers in note form, not to try to write an essay. That would show that he knew the stuff, which he probably did. It must have made some impression because he made it into third year.

A few of us lived along the same suburban rail line. So did Bert. If I stayed working after lectures in the library or lab, he would magically appear as I stepped out and walk to the station with me, or one of the other few. We all noticed he just appeared from nowhere. One warm Friday afternoon a few of us were passing the student's pub with Bert in tow. Someone suggested a couple of coldies. "Did you want one, Bert" Er, yes, he did. We had maybe three or four and called it a day.

Funny thing was that he never made a point of tagging along after that. Sure, sometimes you'd meet him on the way but there was no desperation about it. Maybe he decided he'd been accepted.

I graduated, got a lab job out of town with a company with several labs around the country including one in the town where the old boading school was. Three years later I was back there on a special temporary job. Consultant, I was. Ha!

Then Ronnie, one of the assistants asked me if I knew Bert. Well, yes, I did. They had given him a job in the lab once, he had lasted one day. One day! She had lived next door to him as a child and was just a year or two younger. He was not allowed to speak to her, for she was Roman Catholic. She never saw any other children in his yard, and he was barely allowed out of the house. Every few minutes after getting out of the house his mother would be calling him. He was driven to school all his school days and picked up and driven home. In those days that was all but unheard of.

That was all long ago. I occasionally wonder what became of the poor bastard. A social disaster and unemployable to boot.
(, Sat 12 Sep 2009, 11:15, 6 replies)
You've got to love parental logic:
"Not being able to swim can be dangerous; so to keep someone safe, we won't let them learn to swim."
(, Sat 12 Sep 2009, 21:43, closed)
I used to teach swimming
The number of parents like that is insane. Of course, you only met them because their little darlings had to do school swimming classes and they were so paranoid they would take time off work to come and watch.

And when I say "watch" I mean "scare the shit out of their children".

My most memorable one was a child who was doing rather well for his age and was having a great time until I let go of the board he was holding (to let him see he could do it on his own, but while watching closely ready to catch it again if necessary). He was fine. His dear mother was not. She freaked and screamed at me that he was going to drown. As soon he heard her scream he panicked and LET GO OF THE BOARD (at which point I lifted him on to the edge of the pool). Luckily my manager took her away for a coffee before she actually caused her own child to drown by making him panic. I hate parents. I quit that job because of parents.

(yes, I realise they're not all nutters, but in that kind of job you only meet the nutters).
(, Sun 13 Sep 2009, 22:33, closed)
It's not always parenting
Kids are born damaged in all kinds of ways - it's possible that his parents did a bang up job. I have three kids, one is severely autistic. He'll always be a disaster, and I'll be doing my best with it. It sounds like you were kind to Bert when you could be. Thank you on behalf a parent with a difficult child.
(, Sun 13 Sep 2009, 4:30, closed)
Today people might have called Bert "special"
I've always thought that Bert was not too bright but there was not really anything much wrong with him mentally or physically. At the school, it was clear that he suffered from a lack of exercise though he was not fat at all. He did have a good memory and it's not everyone who can pass second year chemistry examinations, even it it did take him a tremendous effort to do it. A friend of mine has a late teenage lad with Asperger's Syndrome and from what she says, he does not sound like Bert.

Frankly I think he had been squashed by his parents as a little kid and never got over it. They did belong to some odd sect, Plymouth Brethren or suchlike and that can be a bad environment.

The copperplate handwriting was a sign of something, maybe he had been browbeaten into it. It was sort of consistent with a lot of other things I knew then and heard later. Of course it was a handicap when trying to compress a year's physical chemistry into a three hour examination.

He might have been better off in some kind of back-room job, storeman, postal worker, something with a bit of paperwork and a little fetch and carry.

I can't claim to have been kind, I tried to avoid him at times but I always gave him the time of day. More than some did, perhaps.
(, Sun 13 Sep 2009, 12:32, closed)
you found me! Im bert. Shit got to go mums calling..
(, Sun 13 Sep 2009, 18:37, closed)
is most of you losers on here, I've had enough, I shan't be back again.
(, Tue 15 Sep 2009, 0:22, closed)

« Go Back

Pages: Popular, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1