It’s not so everybody can read it. I don’t do it for them; it’s for us… so we can read it..
Monday 15 March, 2010:
Leroi tells me, “Tau’s doing nothing. He just goes everywhere – he comes home for a little while, and then he goes somewhere else for a long time.”
“Roaming,” I say, and he nods.
“I think he’s getting into trouble… sometimes.”
“I think he is, too,” I say.
Later on, I text both Scott and Tau. I tell them I still want to help and they can contact me any time.
But I don’t know if I’ll hear back.
Tuesday 16 March:
After lunch, as I’m on my way to 12 History, Riley is escorted to me by Jack and Shanice.
“Miss – Riley needs to come and see you,”
“She’s been stood down.”
Riley hovers at their side, her defiant little face looking at me. “Can I come to your room for a while, Miss?” she says.
“Yep Riley, come on – come and talk to me.”
I start the class off and then go over. “What’s happened then, Riley?” I ask.
“Miss Kirk shouted at me and I’m gonna get stood down tomorrow.”
“For wagging, and not coming when Miss Kirk told me to… and for getting smart to the teachers, and not going to my classes,” she tells me, with a toss of her head. “I wonder what I’ve got now,” she adds. She hates being on her new timetable and says she can’t remember the classes cos she doesn’t want them. “I liked my old timetable,” she tells me.
“So – would things be better, if you could go back to your old classes, aye Riley?”
“Yeah,” she says.
“Then, I’ll talk to Mrs Tunbridge – I can’t promise anything – but I will try, ok?”
“Thanks Miss,” she says quietly.
“Come on – let’s find out what you’ve got now, and you can see if you might like to go to it.”
She comes over and I check the database.
“Oh! Maths,” she says. “Algood – I like Maths.”
“So will you go to it?”
“Yup,” she says, “See ya!” and she picks up her bag and goes to her class.
Her friends say, “Where’s Riley gone?”
“To class, now.”
“Has she?” they say, amazed. “How come?”
“Cos she doesn’t mind Maths.”
“Oh,” they say, “Cool.” And Shanice says, “Miss – you’re a good teacher. To let Riley come in and calm down.”
“Well,” I say, “Sometimes people just need somewhere to go for a while.”
Wednesday 17 March:
I’m not in the mood for school at all. I’d take the day off, if it wasn’t for project. I know that I mustn’t leave that class with a reliever. Everything will go haywire if they play up and get mouthy and just run around in and out of the block – and I don’t want graff project to get a bad rep, or be closed down.
And then, of course, it soothes me. I don’t have to try when I’m in there. The kids make perfect sense to me, and everything ebbs and flows naturally. They listen to me without me having to ever raise my voice, even in the last two minutes of class. And likewise, I listen to them with complete willingness to respond to the things they say and suggest. And therefore there are no blank moments; no need for tactics, or strategies… just gentle, relaxed actions, from everyone.
Yet at the end when I’m packing away, there’s one library book and one pack of felts missing. I feel momentarily hurt – but only momentarily. I’ll mention it to the class next time, just in passing. Not to have a showdown over it, but to let them know that I don’t necessarily think what I’m ‘supposed’ to think about it. And that’s all.
Dimario and I carry on with the same, good natured comebacks to one another, which seem to have long settled into routine. Dimario sets them up to continue today. “Miss…” he begins.
“See that bombing Tau did?” He points to it on my wall. “It’s crap, Miss.”
“Nah Dimario – it ain’t.”
“Ohh… Miss! Just cos Tau did it, you say it ain’t crap, but honestly, Miss – that’s the work of an amateur,” he says, with his eyes dancing about as he waits for my reply.
“No – and it’s staying up there!” I insist.
“Miss, you should let me put one of mine over it – right over the top.”
“No way; it’s never coming down!” I say, right on cue. “And remember,” I add, “You should be grateful to Taurangi, for this project – that he thought of.”
“Ok, I’m grateful for this – but he’s still on my hit list!” Dimario says, grinning like a wolf.
The other kids are laughing, and saying “Oh Miss, you always stick up for Tau.”
“Yup – I do.” I tell them, laughing too, but at the same time as loyal as ever.
“Oh Tau, Tau…” they mutter.
“Taurangi,” says Noa, in a sweet tone, grinning at me.
“Man – who’s Taurangi?” says Shanice. “Is he the one you all look up to or something?”
“No!” they say, at once. “No.”
“Cos you’re always going on about him,” she tells the boys.
“No-oo…” they repeat, defensively and making me smirk.
“Yeah, they are, aye,” I say. “See, you guys – you keep bringing him up, every time.”
And by now everyone is laughing. Dimario says, “Oh, who cares… at least he thought of this project.”
And I won’t hear a word against Tau – the kids know it, and they kind of like it – they like me to be loyal to one of their own, somehow.
Noa hands me a folder and says, “Here, Miss.”
“What’s this?” I ask.
“It’s Inia’s folder, with his designs in it. He asked me to give it to you.”
“Isn’t he coming today?”
‘No – but he said to give you the folder.”
I take it, and open it up quietly. The most beautiful designs – one after another – burst out at me. I feel like I want to caress each page. Honorable Inia, who hardly says a word to teachers and comes to school only when he can or needs to: letting me hold this treasure. I feel my heart unsqueeze just a little bit..
There’s so many things about school which tire me out, and somehow I bumble through the day, making of it what I can. And project helps to get me through. It’s such a relief to step into that world where I know enough, and I’m known enough.
Friday 19 March:
It’s a month today, I think, that I last saw Tau. Today, on the stairs, Leroi stops and talks to me. “He’s back home, Miss,” he says.
“Yes. He had this drinking thing last night – with his mum and dad,” he tells me matter-of-factly.
“Oh, mmm,” I say, this coming as no surprise to me. And I just say to Leroi, “Yeah, well… he always used to say his dad doesn’t like drinking by himself.”
My first thought – even with this: I’m glad he’s at home. My second thought: well – just that my heart sinks a little bit. It’s not that I’m shocked. But I wonder what’s gonna happen, as time goes by. And I miss him, very much.
Leroi looks steadfastly at me.
I say, “Tell him I said hello, ok?”
“I will,” says Leroi.