Monday 24th August, 2009:
A feeling of spring in the air today, which for some reason completely breaks me. I feel squeezed and stretched, as if I’ve been taken and wrung and thrown in a dripping useless little heap. The whole way home I talk to Kuli – just normal and quite calm – as if nothing’s wrong.
And actually, nothing has gone wrong today – nothing at all – but I’m conscious that I have no claim on anyone here. I feel as trivial as I’ve ever felt, in the face of these spring moments: Nio on a skateboard, in and out of the block, saying, “Look Miss… Miss, watch!”; Dimario’s soft new growth of facial hair, springing up impeccably on his well-groomed upper lip; Alexander, who has ‘cold spring’ in his eyes, something that I can’t put into words: an insulated kind of icy melt, like snow thawing, like a lamb born when the ground’s still covered in snow… and of course Tau, who comes into my room twice, saying hello and disappearing without unnecessary conversation.
I feel like everything just kills me and I can’t do this.
I find it so hard to think of Nio’s beautiful, snappish face, his clucking voice as he tells me: “My teacher told me to get out… he said today we’re looking at Rosa Parks, and I raised my hand to say I know a lot about Rosa Parks, and he told me to go outside.”
He’s perfectly happy on his skateboard, his querulous expression indicates only a momentary desire to be pissed off; after all he now has all the rest of the day to roam around the school, with the inner happiness of a puppy off its leash in a delightful and interesting park – and oh, it’s a nice, ironic use of space, I guess.
This is the strangest world I’ve ever been in, and the only times things have ever made sense to me have been strange times… and I don’t understand. Because at the same time, I hate, hate school, and I bitterly, most deeply, and with the deepest sense of unfairness, resent it, and I can’t just keep throwing myself up at it any more – not when I’m all alone.
All that helps right now – all that does the trick to keep me making dinner and all the rest of it – is music to raise the hopes; patient and rebellious at the same time. Which is exactly, exactly what can be counted upon to soothe my very sore heart.
Tired; headache; gonna do marking tonight
On the plus side, my moderation samples – the two 12 History assessments which I wrote last year – come back with a glowing report from the Qualifications Authority. Oh, thank God for that! I feel like all that work was worth something. And the official validation means I’ve got a bit of ammunition at my disposal, to play school at its own game. I feel like a good spy: using the form, subverting the purpose.
What else, today? Aperamo – we are ‘in the process of negotiation’, me and Aperamo. I feel like it’s a bit of a test we run for one another. Yesterday, I’m just minding my own business… talk about ‘Room of Requirement’, cos I’m there in my room and all of a sudden there comes a little push of the door and in tiptoes Aperamo.
“Hello – what are you doing here?” I ask him, and he looks at me with a dubious expression, and then, as if he’s not quite sure, says, “Um, I’m…”
And I say, “Where are you supposed to be?”
“Science,” he admits.
“So, how come you’re not there?”
“Cos we have a dumb reliever, we’re not doing anything,” he ventures.
“Aperamo…” I exhale, looking at his expression of hopeful request. I say, “Um… honestly, I think you should go back to class.”
He begins, “Miss -” and I add, “Cos, you don’t usually wag class, and well… it’s probably not such a great idea.”
“Oh Miss,” he says, “Couldn’t I hang out here for a while?” and looks at me very, very uncertainly, wondering if he’s read me all wrong, entirely wrong.
I start, “Oh, look, it’s not…” and I don’t know quite how to explain. I want to tell him he doesn’t need to start the wagging business; he’s a good boy, he shouldn’t try and do what he sees the others do, he should just forget about it and go back to Science. But I see him kind of slump, and I see something in his eyes like he’s been turned away, not been admitted after all… and I say, “Look, just stay for a minute then, and we’ll talk about it, ok?”
“Yes Miss,” he says with relief, coming over to me softly.
I say, “You wanna go collect some printing for me first?”
“Yup, sure,” he replies.
And I write a note and send him over to the library. So I can think: about what to do. I can make him go to class – and should I? Maybe it’s best just to turn him down flat. He’s not on the fringe of school at all, not like the colleagues I have. But he knows them, he takes in what’s happening, and he kind of runs with that crowd – or kind of.
I decide I’ll play it by ear – and then he doesn’t come back. I wait ten minutes, then I go over to the copier and he’s not there. My papers are there, but he didn’t pick them up – no, he picked up one pile and left it on the table, with my post-it stuck to it. The other pile is still in the copier.
I think to myself: good – he got scared and went back to class. But also: hey, he never bought the copies back first. I suspect he’s just been running a little private test – with uncertain results – and then he’s suddenly given it up and gone back to the safety of his class. So I’m not displeased, although I would have liked him to bring the copies over before making that decision – it would, I think, have been a ‘politeness’.
Anyway, I forget about it, and then today I suddenly see him at the bottom of the stairs, by my room. He says, “Hi, Miss,” as I come down.
I shake my head, but smile – letting him know I’m not cross cos he did sort of the right thing.
But, flummoxingly, he says; blurts out: “Miss did you… tell Mr Roberts I was at the library?”
“No,” I say, with no idea what he means.
“Oh,” he says. “Cos Mr Roberts came and got me yesterday – and now I’ve been stood down for two days,” he finishes rather mournfully.
“Stood down for what? You can’t be stood down just for wagging Science.”
“No… for setting off the fire extinguisher,” he admits.
I laugh – getting it. “Oh, you dick,” I tell him.
And he laughs as well, and says, “So you didn’t say I was there!”
“No Aperamo, I didn’t.”
And he looks relieved. Because this is what must have happened. He set off the fire extinguisher – with the poor reliever for Science – got in trouble; knew he was in trouble, and came wandering, looking for a room of requirement. By then Morris Roberts was looking for him; no doubt headed straight for the library (usual haunt of waggers), and bingo: there he was.
So – good boy – he left my copies in a pile for me, didn’t try to take them to me or involve me in his story, and promptly got stood down (takes effect from tomorrow).
He says, “And Miss – I didn’t ditch you.”
“I know,” I reply.
“Did you think I had?”
“Yup,” I say.
And we grin at one another.
So it was a little bit of a test, by accident and by circumstances… and I think we both kind of passed it.