Thursday 29 October, 2009:
Thursday can sometimes be a good day – just not today.
Dimario’s a bit supercilious right from the start. First he tries to bring a boy with him to class. I turn the wannabe ‘guest’ away.
“I thought you were cool, Miss,” says the boy, mock-sorrowfully.
“Well you’re wrong,” I tell him, making him grin. “Dimario’s got lots of work to do today, and I don’t want him to have any distractions.”
“Ok Miss,” says the boy, and as he leaves he adds, “We beefin’ it now Miss.”
“Oh, are we?”
“Nah Miss, sweet as,” he says as he exits
But then Dimario gets into one of his moods, and won’t drop it.
“Come on Dimario – grab the laptop,” I tell him, directing him towards his research
“No Miss, I don’t like going on the computer,” he says, cocking an eyebrow. “Wait… I’ll do it, when I’ve done this bombing.”
I briefly leave him to it, because I have others to see to. Still, he looks far too pleased with himself.
When I come by again, “Nearly finished,“ he says, showing me his drawing.
I glance over, and, “Can you read it?” he enquires.
“Then what does it say?”
“Oh Dimario…“ I sigh. “I don’t have to prove that I can read it.”
“Nah, go on Miss,” he insists.
“Alright – then it says ‘Hazard’ “
He grins, but, “Hazard 1,” he replies.
“So where’s the ‘1’?”
“Look – see if you can see it – look for the double letter.”
And sure enough, there it is, right in the ‘z’.
“Okay, I can see it now,” I tell him.
And he still looks very pleased with himself.
After a bit more stalling, he moves to sit at the laptop, types in his google search, and up come the results:
“I don’t care which…” he says, feigning total disinterest.
“Well just start with the top one.”
He does, but with an air of impatience. “There, it’s done,” – and he starts to move away.
“And one more – you’ve got to include some evidence, remember?”
He sighs, clicks on something, and hits the print button.
“Ok, go and get it from the library,” I tell him.
Dimario looks extremely reluctant.
“I’ll go with him Miss,” says the very willing Jack – and off they go.
They return, but: “It didn’t print out,” Dimario tells me, looking like the cat that ate the cream.
“So print it again.”
He opens his mouth to demur, but Jack forestalls him, saying, “Come on, let’s go do it again,” and Dimario gets up and strolls after him.
When they come back (this time with the printing) I start to say something, and Dimario looks me right in the eye, and tells me, “Shut up.”
I stare at him in disbelief. With great difficulty I just breathe in… then out… and say calmly, “Dimario, I can’t believe you spoke to me like that.”
Jack looks at me with awe. “Miss!” he says. “Other teachers would have gone ballistic.”
Dimario says quietly, his voice tailing off, “You were just… going on a bit too much.”
Right on cue, like balm for my injured soul, in comes Nio.
“Miss…” he begins, coming straight over, “I’m here, can I stay?” Then something about my expression checks him, and he adds, “I won’t disturb your class Miss – I’ll be quiet. I won’t disturb Hazard.”
“Don’t worry about Hazard,” I tell him. “He’s being a dick.”
“That’s cos Sir C isn’t here,” says Nio, with surprising insight. “Fuck, I miss Sir C – miss that cunt,” he adds, lovingly. Then he looks at Dimario, saying, “Miss says you’re a dick oi,” and Jack laughs, but Dimario says not a word.
But after class the three of them stay right through lunch, and I feel like Nio and Jack kind of ‘carry’ Dimario, who just… seems to need it.
I don’t really know why it happened – Dimario can be a bit random like that sometimes. So I try to remember all of the times he’s been kind; gone the extra mile… backed me up. And that helps me kind of maintain a dignified silence.
Another thing – after school Morris wants to talk to me about Tau. I feel uncomfortable, not being able to say much and wanting to protect, protect, and protect Tau. I only mention the tip of the iceberg (and even then, I play it all down). I keep to what Morris already knows about: school uniform and missing class – definitely not drugs, guns, robberies, or Tau’s dad.
But Morris knows, of course, that I’m not saying everything. He’s seen Tau here till 4:30 some days and he says, “Tau is really clinging to you at the moment, isn’t he?”
When he puts it like that, I just think… well, yes, and no. And then I think, oh – should I interfere? What’s wrong with me, that I can’t behave like the other teachers? But I know, really, that I don’t think that way anymore.
Sometimes I still freeze up, I get a sensation of ‘stage fright’. But it’s true, I don’t see things in the same terms. Tau isn’t a ‘case’ (that’s the word Morris used today: “Better log it, incase the Ministry needs the information for a case study.”) He’s not someone to just be ‘helped’ into some kind of dependency. And though I don’t romanticize it – at the same time I know he’s strong.