Some kind of understanding

Some kind of understanding, that’ll do. Sufficient unto the day and all.

Thursday 15 October, 2009:

No Tau again today. Of course I worry some more.

11 Social, though, includes the persevering duo of Dimario and Alexander. The assessments are due soon, so I spend a lot of time with these two; Alexander in particular – who’s stoned off his trolley and needs some help.

When I realise this, I just look at him and say, “Alexander?”

“Yes Miss?”

“You’re not really in the zone for this, are you?”

He smiles his usual gentle smile.

“He’s gone to space again,” says Dimario, with affection.

“I know,” I say, just acknowledging it with a sigh. “Gone to the moon again,” I add.

“He’s gone further than the moon,” says Dimario, “He’s gone all the way to Jupiter.”

We look at one another sadly, and Alexander gives us another gentle, beatific smile.

Dimario says, “He’s gone to Uranus…“ and I splutter with laughter.


Alexander picks up the photocopied text upon which he’s been highlighting information for his three ‘Focus Questions’. “It’s too long,” he says helplessly, “I don’t get it.” And he lets it fall from his hand in momentary dismay, then picks up an orange felt and begins some ardent bombing on a piece of refill.

“No, Alexander!” I say. “Stop doing that; you can do that any time of the day or night.”

“Yes, any time of the day – or night,” agrees Dimario, with joy.

And Alexander looks at us mildly.

“Come on then, Alexander,” I say. “Keep on going, this is the last article.”

“Alright Miss – but I need help.” He gazes at the text. “I don’t know what colour to use… for this bit, this bit, this bit,“ and he waves his hand across the page. “It doesn’t make sense, there’s too much…”

“K, lets just start again from here,” I say, flicking back a couple of sections.

Alexander nods, reliant on me. “From where, Miss?” he says. “Blue here… or is it red?”

I read through the paragraphs quickly. “Well, this part’s about causes – so that’s focus question one, and so it’s blue…”

Alexander swipes the blue highlighter against the margin, and waits for my next words.

“And then – up to here – is all about the actions, so it’s green, cos it’s focus question two… and then it goes on to talk about the consequences, so… “

“Green, red… where does red start, Miss?” He jabs the green highlighter against the paper in a hit or miss way. “Is that right?” he asks.

Dimario’s eyes dance with amusement.

“Honestly…“ I sigh. “This is like doing colour by numbers.”

Alexander nods, awaiting his instructions.

“Ok. Up to here,” and I put one finger onto the spot: “Green.”

He draws a wobbly green line along the text.

“Good, and the rest of that paragraph is?”

“Red!” he says in triumph.

He finishes the red and admires it. “Is that it? Am I finished?”

“Well, not exactly… you still have to do the bibliography, and the evaluation – and format your article.”

Alexander groans, audibly. He picks up the piece of refill again..

“Not yet – this first,” I tell him.

“Miss… I’ll take it home, bring it to you tomorrow,“ he beseeches.

“Alexander, no, if it goes home it’ll never come back. I’m right, aren’t I?”

“You are exactly right, Miss,” says Dimario.


And with that, it’s lunchtime, and kids start streaming out of all the classrooms.  But I say to Alexander, “I think you should just stay here and do whatever you can.”

“Yes Miss,” he says, quite equably.

So he and Dimario remain, while Alexander very slowly and laboriously writes up his bibliography, then begins on the evaluation questions. He doesn’t rush, and Dimario just sits and chats to him, and to me.

“Put some music on aye bro,” Alexander says, settling in for the duration. And at the end of lunch he gives me his work with bemused pride – it’s nearly complete now – before floating off to Math.


The issue isn’t really ‘being stoned’, with Alexander. The issue is that he’s there.

I remember the day (months ago) that he said, all of a sudden, “Miss, you don’t want to catch us, aye,” in his usual mild, slightly insulated manner.

“No – I don’t want to catch you,” I said, softly.

And we looked at one another with some kind of understanding.


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