I honestly don’t know how I’m going to be skilful enough to ‘tell’ things without telling the things that aren’t mine to tell. I know that’s a skill I don’t have yet. I’m trying to set a scene; build a story. But at the same time, I’m trying to figure out how to do it. How to tell the story of us, as patiently and truthfully and respectfully as I can. And honestly, if there’s a way – then I’ll surely, surely find it.
Monday 9 March, 2009:
Year 11’s – and still that same feeling of everyone being included in the nice vibes. It’s the happiest thing, I wish I could do it with all my classes.
Tahi, who is new in class, is so shy and so sweet. He finishes all his work, and “Can I have a song, Miss?” he almost whispers.
“What’s that?” (cos I can’t hear him).
“No, go on, tell me,” I coax him.
“Oh… could I choose a song, cos I’ve finished…”
“Yes you can – why don’t you go up and choose one?” I suggest.
“No Miss, I’ll write it down – but don’t tell anyone that it was me who chose it.”
“Cos the others might not like the one I choose.”
I say, “Ok – sure,” and take his piece of folded paper, which reads, ‘Halo, Beyoncé’.
When I load it, and it starts, someone else says, “Oh Miss – are you playing ‘Halo’?” and I just say, “Yeah,” and Tahi smiles at me from up the back.
Tuesday 10 March:
I’m in a bad mood because of the staff ‘Professional Development’ meeting, which is one and a half hours of total bullshit. It’s not just so much that it is bullshit – but that I can’t bear pretending to agree with it in some tacit way. I can barely sit through it, I want to actually cry. I have such an extreme response to this stuff that it surprises me every time. I can’t get used to it; I’ll never get used to it.
And mandatory participation always makes me question myself: who am I to be mute and obstinate against the whole weight of everything? And who is to say that I function any better than all those other teachers who believe this stuff? Who at some level believe what I don’t. Does believing it make them any better at teaching? Does it? Because even if it does, I can’t believe. I just feel sick with helplessness at the thought. Even if it would make me run things more smoothly, or even just as ‘expected’, you know? Like a typical teacher that most kids expect and assume they’ll get – even then, I still can’t believe.
I can’t believe it even if it would make them docile; even if it would make them fill up their books with page after page of ‘learning’. If I saw them lose their ambivalence, it would make me believe it less, not more. If I saw Dimario put an end to his tagging, I might abandon hope completely.
So I have to learn how to say what I must say, and I don’t know where to begin, or even what it would be if I could say it. Something different needs to happen.
Wednesday, 11th March:
Very autumnal now. I’m sitting on my bed, thinking about the day, and waiting for inspiration to hit me with ideas for tomorrow. I didn’t make dinner tonight, as Mandy and I went out for lunch and I had a burger and fries, which I couldn’t really afford this week, but we’ve been saying for ages that we’ll go.
This week, practically all my money is gone – swallowed up in automatic payments already. I’ve got less than $25 in my wallet, and $40 in the bank, and to be honest I feel a kind of faraway feeling about it, as if it doesn’t really matter
Sometimes I feel as if I’m in a different country, as if my life is strange and real… and I’m glad, I’m not even sorry, I’m glad. I don’t mind about not having the same things or wanting the same things as I once expected. I don’t even mind about yesterday’s stupid staff meeting anymore. I feel weary and soothed, like I’m on a train, and I’m just about to fall asleep to the rhythm of the wheels on the rail track… and even though I can’t get comfortable, I’m gonna sleep anyway. Soothed in the middle of discomfort.
Kuli says, on the drive home, “Last night you were sad, this morning you were sad, now you’re happy.” He laughs.
I say, “I know.”
Monday 16 March:
Nio at the door of my room:
“Miss, don’t be sad, let me in, come on Miss… oh, you suck then, nah you don’t suck Miss,” says the beautiful Nio.
I say, “Nio, even though I love you, you can’t come in, cos my class are doing some serious learning.”
“Ok, Miss – I’ll go. Can I come and apologize to your class, then?” he says hopefully. All he wants to do is to come sit with Jack and Alexander, and I can’t let him, because then no-one will take the work seriously. And all I want to say is: Alright, come on then – but I know he’s wagging and I have to send him away dejectedly.
He reappears at the end of the class. By then, the boys have done their presentation and all is well. Nio says irrepressibly, “Miss, I’m back!” through the window.
If it wasn’t for my year 11s – I’d probably just let him in. But Jack’s working so hard today, and he’s missed three or four classes, so I have to keep it tight.
Nio with his fake insolence, when I know for sure he’s being kind to me and feeling loving. He can’t even say, “Miss, you suck,” without taking it back in the next breath. When he stands talking to me, he’s up close like a little kid. I feel like giving him a hug, just the trusting way he stands by me and near me.
I can’t quite understand how things didn’t feel like this when I was young. I was always at a distance from things and I thought it was just me, that I was awkward, or secretive, even. I was sitting loose to my world, always and willingly. Didn’t quite love it, didn’t quite need it. And if I had known there was a whole other world? Who would I have been?
I understand more now, or I think I do – but that doesn’t necessarily mean I can fix it. Maybe it’s too late to fix this now. Like learning a language when you’re a child, compared to as an adult. You can never be a ‘native speaker’ if you don’t grow up with it.
Funny thing is, I can’t go ‘back’ either.
I ache. Think I will lie here.