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Being teased is just a part of growing up

PUBLISHED: 10:35 12 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:42 06 July 2010

AS if teachers don't have enough on their plates on playground duty with picking up climbing frame casualties, detangling necks from skipping ropes and summoning parents to put plasters on their children's knees because teachers aren't allowed.

AS if teachers don't have enough on their plates on playground duty with picking up climbing frame casualties, detangling necks from skipping ropes and summoning parents to put plasters on their children's knees because teachers aren't allowed.

Now they're expected to patrol, clipboards at the ready, to record every playtime insult hurled in jest.

Brown's Operation Fun Ban is now turning its attention to name-calling. Teachers must now write down even minor name-calling and filed under the ever-widening umbrella of “serious bullying” with details saved on a database until the child is 16.

Every “squirt,” “smelly” and “crybaby” will be meticulously listed on the register, the taunts kept logged for the student's entire school career. Are they serious? How can this constitute serious bullying?

If a child, however young, uses a racist or homophobic word, their behaviour will be monitored for signs of “hate bullying” even if they had no idea what they were saying.

Explaining to children why their words were wrong is ineffective, it is deemed. Their “offences” have to be logged. A five-year-old can be labelled a bully for the next 11 years for calling his friend “gay” because he's heard it come out of an older boy's mouth.

Every boy I've known has thrown that one at sometime. They soon learn by guidance and experience that it's neither desirable nor clever - not by naming and shaming on a “hate register.”

Children are restricted more than ever - hovered over and watched in everything they do. They're driven to health and safety-strangled schools where their every move is supervised, scored and recorded.

Their play is suffocated and stymied by what is deemed “safe”.

Learning how to deal with playground taunts and teasing are an essential part of childhood, developing important skills in managing relationships and situations.

Being called names or teased for being or having something different might not always be pleasant but it's what kids do. It's part of growing up and learning to relate to each other in a community.

I should know. When I was 12 suddenly my nose became my “something different.” Almost overnight, it attracted inordinate amounts of attention among the middle school boys who, as boys do, spotted an uncanny resemblance to the front end of a supersonic plane.

They would run around the playground with their arms outstretched, shouting “Concorde is coming into land” thinking it was a real hoot.

From then on, I was “Concorde.” Probably not the most welcome nickname for a self-conscious under-confident 12-year-old but boy did it teach me to be able to laugh at myself, not to take myself seriously?

Today I could probably sue that nickname's originator - a milkman now in Lowestoft, I believe - for hurt feelings. Also the two classmates at high school who decided what a hoot it would be to measure my nose with a metre rule. I often wonder where the teacher was during this episode?

But I just laughed with them; At least I was getting attention which, after all, is what most 13-year-old girls want.

Learning to laugh at myself set me up well for life. I never hid in the corner or craved a nose job. I just dealt with it best I could.

Being teased and dealing with it by not taking ourselves too seriously brings inner strength and perspective on life.

I fear for our children's fortitude when they grow up totally incapable of dealing with anything vaguely “horrible”, “nasty” or uncomplimentary.

On the subject of schools, one upside of the recession is a trickle of men into primary school teaching.

Hopefully more men will want to go into nursery work too.

It's a crying shame for boys - many with no male role models at home -that they can go through the entire pre-school and primary school system taught, guided and led by only females.

Life is mixed. School staff should be too.

But, sadly, human nature puts so many fabulous role models off even trying.

In one breath, parents - usually mothers - say they want more men in schools and nurseries, the next they're casting suspicion about their motives with the nudge, nudge, wink, wink treatment about men enjoying work with small children.

It does take a very special man to set foot into primary teaching and nursery work today. And a very brave one.

So Jade Goody turned out to be cleverer than we gave her credit for - with a sense of humour too.

She managed the last laugh from the grave a year after her death.

Parasite Jack Tweed, who married the 27-year-old shortly before her death from cervical cancer and has spent the wake of her death in booze-fuelled parties and in prison on remand for rape, is to inherit her old car. His only inheritance and he can't drive.

Her dreadful mother, Jackiey, who let her down all her terribly sad childhood and traded off her success in adulthood like a leech, gets a £10,000 'gift'.

And, as those two characters let their “legacies” sink in, they learn her secret £3 million will all go to her young sons.

And a lovely gesture for her grandparents - of the generation who worry about how to pay for their “good send off” - was a £20,000 funeral fund.

It's poignant that Jade comes across so much more likeable, sassy and astute in death than she ever did during her life.

Ten new mothers a day complain about treatment they receive on overstretched maternity wards.

Moans include objecting to midwives' and doctors' rudeness and terrifying and calamitous deliveries.

But Channel 4's One Born Every Minute, which charts the work of midwives on a delivery floor, tells it exactly how it is.

And, if that hospital is typical, the poor staff have far more to complain about their clientele than the other way round.

How midwives have the patience to deal with some women in labour without slapping them is a miracle.

Women scream demanding drugs before labour's even started properly and treat qualified staff as skivvies. Many are rude and obnoxious.

Men at the birth to be “supporting” are next to useless, getting in the way and moaning about the time that's passing.

My favourite was a father-to-be giving his wife a really hard time for insisting on a natural delivery when she could have had a caesarean section as she was doubled over in pain.

“I bet we'll still be here at midday tomorrow,” he nagged as the poor woman laboured. Just the support the poor woman needed.

The overall message from this series is that most women in labour are total pains, their partners are hopeless goons and the staff are angels.

And that might be just what the staff wanted the programme makers to show. “Complain all you like about staff but this is what you lot are really like.”

As you read this, some poor pooch at Crufts is being doused in cosmetics, tweaked and tufted, to prance around the ring in the name of doggy perfection.

Cosmetics? For dogs? Hair dye is all the rage, apparently, for the champion hound. A dense black rinse to even out the coat that nature gave.

But, worse than that, the Kennel Club has written to the two breed clubs responsible for Chinese Crested dogs in Britain to stress their opposition to the use of hair removal products to remove unsightly hair prior to competition.

Unsightly hair? On dogs? Dogs are made hairy.

The idea of Crufts should be to show the health and strength of a breed and the diversity of the dog. It's not a US-style beauty pageant for pampered over-groomed dogs who need to escape from the poodle parlour for a long run in the woods.

These people who slather their pets in noxious cream designed to melt hairs on women's legs have the nerve to call themselves dog lovers. Cruel show offs with their eye on the chequebooks, more like.

Time for a change to Crufts - less on the looks and more on their nature, work and ability, please. And that's a plea from people who love dogs for what they are - dogs.

Record numbers of over-55s want to flee to new lives overseas to escape Britain's crime rates, economy and rotten weather.

Actually it's just what Britain needs - if it's done properly. A mass exodus of retired folk to help free up some services stretched to the limit by an ageing population.

The thing is, they'll love their new homes and lives abroad until they get ill - then they will be heading home to get treated for free on our fine old NHS.

The grass might be greener, the sky bluer, the sun brighter and the supermarket and property prices cheaper - but when it comes to what's really important, the best is here in Britain, free so we'll still end up footing the bill for the non-doms treatment.

When was the last time you had a crisp clean £5 note in your pocket?

Probably about 2002. Fivers are virtually extinct. When you are lucky enough to get one in your change it's faded, thin and as limp as a three-week old lettuce.

We're all fed up with clanking about with £12 worth of £1 coins in our pockets because tills have no £5 notes for change.

The Bank of England wants to get more fivers in circulation and looking at getting new crisp notes back in our wallets.

But the reluctance and aversion is from the commercial side.

The public should have the last word - and we want our fivers back.

Lowestoft might be the most easterly point in the British Isle but what really puts it on the map is the Seafront Air Festival.

Every year, its name spreads wider as more people experience one of the best air shows for just £1.

But it needs people to sign up for the Friends of the Air Festival to pay for the flying for this year's event on August 12 and 13.

It's much cheaper than a monthly gym membership and helps boost the town's economy, reputation to make Lowestoft so much more than that bit that sticks out on the east coast with an erratic bridge, terrible road system, a Bird's Eye factory and a giant turbine.

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