Tuesday 17 November, 2009:
H12 has been double booked, and my group of year 10 gangstas follow me round as I search for a room of requirement. The teachers look at them as they tail along, Aperamo carrying my speakers, the rest just strolling; no fuss, no bother.
“Where are we going Miss?”
“I don’t know, but we’ll try F block.”
And in F block – there we find Morris, who gives us F02. It’s a corner room, under-utilized by teachers, he tells me that there’s there’s no-one in it right now.
We set up, and 10 Social look at me with happiness.
“Miss,” they say. “You’re not grouchy today!” (all grinning and agreeing with this statement).
I say, “Yeah, you weren’t good in Social on Friday, in Miss Adams’s room.”
They laugh, and tell me “We don’t like being in that room!”
“Well neither do I, but there’s nothing we can do – so we’ll just have to cope.”
“Your room’s much nicer,” says the lovely Riley.
But F02’s alright, so they just sit back very quiet, content, and well-behaved; every single one of them. Sometimes I’m really at my best with these 14 and 15 year old kids, who really just want to be considered, not pushed around. And don’t we all.
Tau arrives late, looking tired and out of it. I hear Levi ask him, “What’ve you got next g?”
Tau just shrugs and Levi says to him, “Where’s Miss gonna be?” and then, “Miss? Where will you be next?”
“I don’t know,” I say. Cos I have a non-contact after break, but I haven’t figured out a room of requirement yet. “Maybe Mr Roberts will let me use this room again,” I add, hopefully.
After interval I check with Morris, go back to F02, and Tau and Inia show up.
Tau breathes heavily and looks so tired, whereas Inia seems unencumbered and light.
I say, “You look tired, Tau. What did you do yesterday?”
“Well…” he considers. “Um, not that much. But I got stoned last night.”
“Oh well, that it explains it,” I say, and he tells me, “With Shyette – you know Shyette, Miss?”
“Well, she shouted me, she said to meet by the green box – and we got stoned as.”
“What green box?”
“The green electricity box.”
“Her mum and my mum are best friends,” Tau tells me, “And she bought the weed off my mum.”
“And what did you do this morning?” I ask.
“Got stoned again.”
“Thought so,” I say, and his eyes swivel just a little bit, and he fiddles with the locked teacher console, commenting, “Mmm, it’d be easy to pop this lock.” He regards it consideringly, and Inia sitting next to him, beanie on, looks settled and alert.
But actually, Tau’s expression bothers me and I worry, quietly. His dad’s back in hospital (came out, went back in).
I say, “He’s probably waiting for you to come and bring him some grapes,” and Tau snorts with laughter.
“He’d rather have something else,” Tau says.
“Something from the tin shop, aye bro,” says Inia.
Our room of requirement comes to a sudden end at 11:50 when a PE class turns up at the door. But fortuitously, the room two doors down is empty. Morris offers it to us, and we set up all over again.
I can see that despite Tau’s stoicism, he’s very miserable, and kind of at a loss. He doesn’t know even where to go – and I feel like my nice safe room in T block would be so good for him right now. At lunch we take my stuff back to the office, and he mooches around.
“What time’s your meeting, Miss?” he asks (We have a teachers’ union meeting this afternoon, and school’s finishing early.)
“And what time will it finish?”
“And what will you do after that?”
“We have another meeting.” (Staff Professional Development)
“And how long will that take?”
Poor Tau – he doesn’t wanna go home, he wanders down along the bridge just ahead of me, and suddenly presses himself to the wall, brings forth a vivid from his pocket, and tags a fast SSC on the wall. At first I think he’s just pretending to, and then I see he really has.
“Oh Tau!” I cry. “What did you do that for?”
“Dunno,” he says, looking furtive and then just forlorn.
“I can’t believe you did that right in front of me!” I wonder. “What if it’s on camera – you could get us both into trouble.”
“There’s no camera along there.”
“There might be – I don’t know.”
“There isn’t,” he says. “I know.”
“Well, I’m not sure. And imagine if it shows you tagging, and then me coming along and not saying anything… I’d be in trouble too.”
“Nooo, that won’t happen,” he insists.
“Well, I’m worried now, and that’s not good, Tau – I’m cross.”
“Sorry, Miss,” he says, meaning it; but also very tired and kind of at his wits’ end, which I know is why it happened.
“It’s alright,” I say, consolingly. “I’ll get us a drink aye,”
“Ok Miss,” he says, and follows me to the cafeteria, where he just sits in a chair and waits patiently. Simeon arrives, and I’m glad, cos it’s someone to go with Tau and help him feel calm. I get them both a drink, and we sit at one of the big tables and just talk a while before the meeting.
And then have to leave them sitting there in the cool, and Tau calls after me, “Miss, have a nice day… and thanks for the drink.”
I feel tired all the way through the staff PD, and mostly it’s because I am worried. Tau’s got nowhere to go, and that look in his eye tells me he’s barely coping with it all: his dad; no money; walking to the hospital; being tired all day, and my room isn’t there go to when he needs a rest; not to mention all the weed (and alcohol) – and more and more he just seems to be exhausted, lethargic, and on autopilot.
I wish there was something I could do. Should I do anything – what could I do? And I’ve never had a strategy, a goal. Like I said before, sometimes the very things I love are also the things that make my heart ache… and I think I have to just accept all this.