Grey Areas

Wednesday 2 June, 2010:

In project, Dimario is exceedingly co-operative – especially considering he was so scratchy yesterday. He doesn’t even sit with his group, but up the front with Libya and Teki, so that he can help them with their work.

At one point, when Teki asks me for the little felts – the ones he used last time – I reply, “Sorry Teki, I lent them to someone,” and I see Dimario’s ears prick up.

“Who?” Teki says.

Dimario’s eyes narrow as he listens.

“Inia,” I say, and Dimario looks surprised – he was sure it was gonna be Tau.


But then, Dimario asks for the other markers, and I go get them – and find that Tau’s written CLUZO on the packet. I can’t help laughing as I say to Dimario, “Sorry Dimario – I didn’t know he’d done that…”

Dimario scowls.  But he sees I mean it, and regards me with some affection nonetheless, saying, “Oh Miss, again.”

“What… who’s Cluzo?” ask the juniors at the table with Dimario.

He rolls his eyes.  “Just a fag.”

“Man – you really hold a grudge,“ I say, but without being cross.

“Yeah,” says Dimario earnestly.  “I do – and you always back him up.”

“Who’s Cluzo?” the boys say, interested now in this conversation.

“A little fag that Miss always backs up…”

Do you? Do you back him up?” they say to me.

“Yes I do,” I say, and I look from them to Dimario, and add, “And I always back you up too, Dimario.”

Libya gazes at me and struggles to find the right words.  “Miss, you’re a…” he begins, and then says, with feeling, “A beautiful teacher.”


More developments with Karys and the ‘Chris Hapuru incident.’ After school I get one of those ‘request a meeting’ emails, via Karys’s PA. So, Tuesday 3:15 – and of course, what can I do but accept the invitation.

In my favour: the success of project, my moderation from NZQA, the walk throughs, my excellent stats for attendance and results, my connection with ‘at risk learners’…

But the management don’t trust my connection with this group of students, because they don’t trust them – and at the end of the day, they don’t really want them around. And it makes them uncomfortable that someone else does want them here: Tau, Alexander, Nio, Argos… and now Chris as well. Grey areas – and I can’t help being worried. But the fact that the meeting’s been scheduled a week after the letter (more) makes me feel ooo-k… cos if it was real serious, wouldn’t she be doing it hard and fast?

I think it’ll be alright, but I’ll get told off… and then there’s my teacher registration (which has to be renewed in August). I need to go in the best frame of mind, and play to my strengths.


Thursday 3 June:

I tell Eddie and Andre to put their phones away – nicely – but I sigh a little bit, to be dotting every ‘i’ and crossing every ‘t’ lately.  I say, “Come on, put them away. I don’t want you to get into trouble… or me.”

Andre looks at me, and says, “Do you ever get in trouble, Miss?”

I laugh, replying “Yes – now and then.”

“What about?”

“Oh… nothing much,” I say.

Eddie says, “What kind of things have you got in trouble about?” He asks this question very unchallengingly, and with a friendly and supportive look towards me, just as if he knows something.

I stop and say, looking back at him, “Eddie… have you heard something?”

He just looks at me, not sure what to say.

I say, “Well – it’s like this. Sometimes, with certain things you do… there are grey areas, and you make a call, and you do what you think is right. But then, sometimes… the school wants everything to be black and white… does that make sense?”

“Yes it does, Miss,” says Eddie, and looks at me with a little nod, and then says, simply and nicely, “I think… I know who you’re talking about.”

“I think you probably do too,“ I say. And we just exchange a smile, and his look says: On your side there, Miss. And I feel backed up – and I appreciate it.


Heta says, “Miss – have you got a brush?”

I grin and point to Andre, and Heta giggles. “Will he have a brush, Miss?”

I nod, conspiratorially.

“Excuse me -” she calls, and he looks over. “Do you have a brush?”

He takes it out of his pocket and passes it over without a qualm.

The girls giggle, and he smiles at them, as Heta says, “Ohh!” She strokes her hair with it, gently.

“Miss, does my hair look alright now?”

“Yes – beautiful,“ I tell her, quite indulgently.  I look at Andre and add, “I just hope you haven’t got nits…” and he starts laughing.


Sunday 6 June

One day, when I have to explain – on earth or in heaven – this is my testimony, and the testimony of my heart; it’s all I have to show anyone.

Really, I feel like I can only barely remember a time when I felt ‘happy’ – or at least not scared. And yet at the same time I can’t go back. because only by going patiently forward, even though I don’t know what’s going to unfold, does there exist the possibility of happiness. And God alone knows how I found myself here, but I know it’s for me, only I have to stake my claim to it: my living, breathing, warm and passionate claim to it.

I want, I want… not to waste time and life, even though I feel some days like that’s all I do.


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