“A room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker’s needs.” (J.K. Rowling)
Wednesday 5th August, 2009:
The kids are acting like it’s the last day of term today – wagging and fights aplenty. I have several visitors at different stages of the day. Argos and Nio are both there with my year 9’s: Argos truanting (though he’s been to his first class); Nio kicked out of PE for his misbehavior. He loiters outside my room for a while, and eventually I go out. Just then, Kuli comes down the stairs, looks at Nio and me, and says, stopping to comment, “It’s like you two are best friends or something!” Kuli shakes his head, laughing and Nio just grins, shimmering next to me like sunlight. He comes into my room, I give him felts and an old exercise book, and he sits on the floor at the back while the year 9’s work.
Every time I come by, “Miss…“ says Nio, and I stop and talk to him, companionably. Argos arrives too, and joins Nio on the floor. They bomb quietly and with relaxed contentment, watching through the big windows as the block fills and empties like a tidal pool: an influx of kids (wagging), then a DP doing a sweep; the kids moving on, rounded up off to class, and, “Our asses are safe in here!” says Nio, with a happy sigh.
Though outside, at the start of interval, Nio and another boy accost one another. They’re up in each other’s faces, just about to throw the first punch when I see it and walk over.
“Nah Miss, gap…” says Nio, not at all unkindly.
But I just say, “Who cares Nio, leave it, come on…” and he wavers for a second, so I persist: “Come on, who cares… it’s the last day, come back in my room aye Nio.”
And he lets me put my arm around his shoulder and draw him away, and like that we walk back to my room. He’s agitated and his eyes are ‘white’ and kind of coated with a thin watery film. I shut my door and keep my arm on him, saying, “Just stay here for a minute, ok?”
“Ok Miss,” Nio mutters, “But I’m gonna get that cunt later.”
All the same, he calms down.
Then Argos – something’s up with Argos, he’s still not really ok. He seems so weary and tired and kind of distracted all week… family stuff, he says. I don’t mind if he’s up and down – he sits in my room, looking more secure for a little while at least.
The other person today is George, and though he’s totally belligerent to begin with, at least he’ll talk to me. I’m teaching when the year 10 Dean comes in – did I know George is outside in the block, by my room? I tell her, truthfully, that I have no idea. He doesn’t come in if I have seniors, just sits and waits. She asks if I can check the online timetables, cos he won’t tell her what class he’s supposed to be at. I check, and it’s Technology.
“Would you like me to go talk to him?” I ask.
“Oh please, would you?” she says, and so I go out and sit by him.
“Morning,” I say.
“Are you ok?”
“Not going to Technology today?”
“Nah, fuck no – it’s gay and the teacher sucks – not going there,” he mutters.
I say, “Ms Tunbridge just came and talked to me,” and he retorts, “Don’t care!” like a little kid. This makes me laugh, and then I see him smile, grouchily.
I say, “Ooh George, you’re not having a good day, aye”
“Nah, Miss, stuff keeps happening,” he tells me.
“Oh,” I say, wanting to talk to him some more but not trying to make him ‘open up’ or anything. It’s not strategy; I just want him to know that I care – cos I do.
And he looks at me, about to say something else, and then Marjorie’s there again, saying, ‘Any luck?”
I say, “Yup, aye George – you’ll give it a try aye.”
“Spose so,” he says, gruffly.
She backs off for a moment, and George tells me he hates Technology cos they’re doing a different assessment in his new class, and he doesn’t know about that stuff, but he still has to sit the exam – and I say, “Ohh, I get it… let me talk to Miss, and we’ll try to sort that out for you.” And he gets up and he’s gonna do me a favour and give class a try. I see he hates the idea, but off he goes.
Marjorie says, “Thanks for that.” She adds, “He’s so difficult. He won’t even speak to me. He doesn’t relate to many of the teachers.”
I tell her about the Technology problem and she didn’t know, but understands that it would be a problem. She’s gonna send an email and try sort it out.
“Thanks for keeping an eye out for him,” she says
I say, “No problem – anything I can do, it’s really a pleasure.”
And I mean that, because George touches my heart very much.
Later on he’s outside my room again, truanting his next class. He says to me, “Don’t leave this school, Miss.”
“Cos I probly won’t come, if you leave.” He says it with a scowl and a kick of his foot, as if I’ve already given in my notice.
“God you’re grumpy!” I say affectionately. He smiles and frowns and grins and swings his feet, and I just look at him and think what a nice, funny person he is.
After George has swung his feet for a while, he regards them and says, conversationally,
“Fuck… my shoes are pretty fucked, aye.”
“That’s just what I was thinking,” I reply, and we both laugh and laugh.
The first of two teacher-only days tomorrow. I loathe teacher-only days with a special passion. Sometimes, honestly, I’ve been known to cry afterwards – in the car with Kuli, or when I get home. Plain old ‘stress’ and being busy are bearable compared to the revulsion I feel when I have to participate in these things. And I do have to, despite it being total pretense on my part; absolutely enforced participation. It really mashes my mind, makes me crazy – to not be able to slide out. Cos you have to talk, write, ‘do’ stuff; presentations and the like.
But today I’m on duty, and the year 10’s talk to me out by the gym: Simeon and Levi, and Tau and Noa, and some kids I don’t know but who greet me like a friend and not a foe. As I walk across, one steps out and does a little demo of me walking, saying, “And one and two and three and turn…” which makes me laugh; I don’t really know what he’s on about, but its all good. So I stop and talk and they’re just funny and friendly – and the sun’s out, it’s almost spring.