A lot of complicated stuff

Tuesday 27 October, 2009:

Tau’s back again today, arriving late, tired, stoned, and unsettled – well who wouldn’t be unsettled? I’m amazed by his powers of resistance and by his restless, distracted willingness to trust me all day long. Tau’s got top priority – I don’t even go to the staff meeting this afternoon. And if it comes down to it, well, the focus of all that is supposed to be the students anyway, so he’s got every right to my attention instead.


Tau and Inia sit quietly in my room at lunch and talk about dealing.

“How many foils do you get out of your ounces?” asks Tau, and Inia tells him matter of factly: “35 or 37, bro.”

Neither of them is the least bit guarded, nor trying to impress; the conversation’s just low key. And there’s no reason for me to pretend that I’m shocked when I’m not.

After school, I get waves of Tau’s scent (hair wax; jacket; warm skin) and I feel like I’m gonna cry, because I’m so relieved that he’s alright, and at the same time I’m scared for him if all this keeps up. I don’t know what I could; should, do – except just give him somewhere to go, and feed him.

To add to everything else, 10 Social aren’t so hot today. They start off alright, but don’t have much stamina as Tuesday afternoon drags on. Riley and Levi need a lot of attention. Then Aperamo attempts to plug in a hair straightener and do Simeon’s hair – and I lock it in my drawer.

And Tau mostly just draws on paper; a couple of times using my whiteboard marker, and I (tacitly) indulge him cos of everything that’s going on, and I know for sure the others see it as special treatment. They’re ooook with it; they don’t exactly mind – but to be honest it doesn’t make them want to do their work, either. They think… what do they think? They think it’s gonna be ok to be kickback, today. So it’s all very difficult.

At one point I think I should just make Tau sit down and write in his book – but what good is that going to do? All the same, I’m putting myself in a difficult position, and at times I feel like he’s milking it (but only when the class is around).


Afterwards, we have a talk about this. Tau hangs his head, and I sigh, “It’s my own fault really, not yours,” – and then he just looks relieved because I’m not cross with him.

“But honestly, Tau…” I say, sorting through a pile of maps and seeing that he’s tagged CLUZO on the top right hand corner of some of them. “God, how many of these have you done?” I exclaim, and he starts to laugh at my expression. “Honestly,” I repeat. “To someone like Levi, it seems so unfair – you’re just doing what you want and I’m letting you do it!” And then I start to laugh myself for my own complete inability to chastise him, today.

All afternoon, I think I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing – not really. I’m trying to do something and I don’t even know what it is. All I know is that I don’t wanna let Tau down.


Thursday 29 October

Tau arrives late again, he’s very lethargic and at the same time has that distracted and rather wild look in his eye. But after lunch he heads in the general direction of his PE class, leaving me and Dimario to go over Dimario’s folder for the assessment.

I tell Dimario, “I’ve just written your report – so you better get your work done.”

“Have you?” he says with a pleased expression.

“Yes, I have.”

“Is it better than my last one? Cos I wanted the last one to be… better than what you wrote!”

“Oh did you!” I exclaim. “You’re very picky, aren’t you? What was wrong with the last one?”

“It wasn’t good enough for my mum,” he says, and I laugh, replying, “I did my best!”

“What have you said in my report, Miss?” asks Dimario.

“I said you were… persevering.”

“My mum won’t think that’s good enough.”

“And that you showed maturity.”

Dimario’s eyebrows raise, as if to say: please, continue.

“And that you showed a lot of insight into the topic…”

“My mum’ll say, ‘That doesn’t sound like you!’ “ he tells me, with joy.


Outside in the block, I notice that Tau’s roamed back. Looking at me and looping around: in the automatic doors and out again… and Dimario grins at Tau’s advancing and retreating figure and says, “Look Miss, there’s your star pupil.”

“He is, too!” I say.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Tau ambling closer, looping, kicking a bottle, then flicking something against the stairs, just waiting for my attention. He winds up right in front of me, flicking his earphones against the stairs some more; I can see that’s what he’s playing with now, and I say, “Tau?”

He stops, waits patiently.

Dimario looks on with interest.

“What are you doing? Not going to Math?” I ask.

Tau shrugs.

“Then you can help me…” I give him a couple things which I’ve forgotten to return to admin. “Can you take this over to Student Reception for me, please – and then come back here, k?”

“Ok,” he says, and trots off.

Dimario watches him go.

I say, “Tau’s alright, I’ll just keep him with me for the afternoon.” And we turn our attention back to the folder.

When Tau returns, he comes and sits down without the least fuss or anything, and Dimario grins at the way Tau just plonks himself next to us – and right then I feel so tender towards him, just for having faith in my person.


After school, when we’re on our own he tells me, “I feel tired Miss… I’ve gone all weak.”

I ask Tau if he ate today.

“No Miss, I didn’t,” he replies, then adds softly, “And I had no tea last night.”

“Tau…“ I say. “Come on, you can’t go all day without food – no wonder you don’t feel like going to any classes. I’m getting you a drink, I’ve got one in the fridge upstairs.”

“Ok Miss,” he says, without protest.

He drinks it, and straight away he looks relieved and surprised.

“Are you feeling better now?”

Yes,” he says, kind of shaking himself awake.

“I’ve got some chocolate left too – do you want it, Tau?”

“Yes, thanks Miss,” he says. As he eats, he tells me, “That’s the first time I’ve had food since that lunch you got me yesterday.”


After a while, Tau confides, “It’s shaming for me, to eat when there’s people there.”

Is it?”

“Yes,” He continues, “Even at Teki’s house – they were having a feed, but I was shy so I ate it in the room, and then his mum and dad got mad with me.”

“How come?”

“They thought I was being rude,” he says, “And now his mum hates me – cos after that I told her to get fucked.”

“Tau, “ I say. “You know, you’re good at doing hard stuff, all the stuff that other people can’t do. All that risky stuff, like tagging, and selling, and sleeping in the park. But you’re not so good with the easy stuff, like eating – and going to class.”

He looks at me wonderingly.

And I continue, just thinking aloud, “But I know you’ve got a lot of complicated stuff to think about. No wonder you don’t feel like doing work sometimes.”

“I have,“ he agrees.

I say, “Well, I think you do a good job… you still manage to get to school, even if you’re not always in class,” and we can’t help laughing.

When I pack up and we go out, he asks me, “Can I have a lolly pop, Miss?”

“Course you can.”

I go get Kuli (poor Kuli, having to wait so long) and Tau heads off for home, and I know it’s just one day, but it was alright.


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