‘You and me’

Monday 11 April, 2011:

Sick all weekend. In fact, the only reason I’m not calling in sick today is because I don’t want to have Karys all magnanimous and thinking I owe her.

Or, no – there’s another reason for going to school: so the boys can paint at breaks.


Then it turns out a pretty crap day. Showdown with some kids (including Levi) in 12 History. Afterwards I feel crushed… and when I look at my reflection, I see that in my eyes.

They back a boy called Kaleb, and I feel undefended. Except for Riley – for some reason Riley chooses to stay in my corner. I won’t forget that Riley doesn’t ditch me, on a day when loyalty seems to mean little.

I know, it’s only kid stuff, but it does matter. It matters that Levi went, even temporarily, where he sensed the power position to have shifted.

Oh well… I guess I’ll just cut my losses, for the time being.


Tuesday 12 April:

Painters both breaks. Just Libya and Zion today; Noa’s away – it’s the day of Inia’s court appearance.

After school, with some trepidation in my heart, I go round to find out the news. When I get there, the boys, plus their girlfriends, plus Kost, are sitting in the shed… playing Monopoly. This cracks me up – I think of all the stereotypes about gangstas. Noa says to me, “It’s a mean game, aye Miss.”

I ask Inia how it went, and he bursts forth, “Good!” The charges have been reduced, there’s going to be a family conference, then another court appearance in May. And his curfew is 7-7 now, which means he can go for his interview and – hopefully – start his course.

And Tau starts his course today. He texts later to say it’s algood.


Wednesday 13 April:

There’s been a change in Zion over the last few weeks – something has switched on inside him. He used to automatically present himself as quite vacant, even with me; and although we got on fine, I could see he didn’t want to be forced. Now there’s a light in his eyes. I think it’s because he’s allowed himself to be seen… and because he’s understood that other people (me, and the kids in project) like what they see.

Marjorie said to me once, “Zion – you won’t get much out of that one.” She meant it kindly enough, I guess – but she was so terribly mistaken. He’s one of the most talented artists I’ve ever met. I feel very privileged to see him at work; no longer just watching silently.

Levi’s ok. I’m polite, but beefing it in my way. I don’t have to have him in my corner.

Libya tells me he’s moving down the line next term. It’s his last day at MC Friday. “Shall I get your number, Miss?” he asks, and I give it to him.


Thursday 14 April:

The Mona Lisa’s are pretty well close to perfect today, writing their assessment. Chris is as close to perfect as you’ll ever get (he eats a sandwich ten minutes out from the end; looking at me with hopeful friendliness).

While they’re working, Elroy rolls up bearing a dollar – the dollar for the (compulsory) ‘community fundraiser’. I can’t believe Elroy has actually brought his dollar; my mind honestly can’t quite fathom it! He hands it to me proudly, and I feel like hugging him; even though he’s just ‘popped out’ of class to give it to me.

“Go to class now, aye Elroy,” I say, but quite lovingly.

“K, Miss.”

Later he comes and sits by me in ‘Inia’s spot’ – up by my table in tutor.

There’s something a bit Nio-ish about Elroy – he’s an immediately likeable soul, far as I’m concerned. And yet this slightly bemuses his brother Kepaoa, who tells me, “Elroy’s only good for you,” (which is what people used to say about Nio and me, too).


Friday 15 April:

11 Social: this year’s class does not endear itself to me – and yet Abdul gambols at my side all the way to and from the library. “I like this class, Miss,” he tells me, making me feel guilty inside. I like Abdul too – it’s the vibe of the class that sets me a little on edge. Whiney; a bit frenetic… I dunno.

The bloody assessment is due today, and most kids actually do get it finished – I feel unmoved by this, and then guilty again for not caring more. It’s really only Abdul who I have much fellow-feeling for today, in Social.

I’m so tired and I don’t know where anything is going. I feel quite certain I’m not doing the right thing just teaching regular subjects like Social, or even History. There’s nothing I want to tell people about that stuff, or not really… or not in the sense that it grabs me to tell anyone anything. I feel differently only about one class: project. I feel like with each person in there, even the ones I don’t really know yet, well… that it matters for me to say what I’m saying. And then my voice suddenly has some quality it just doesn’t have in other places – there’s a sustenance to it.

And I know that’s the only reason I’m even there, showing up. It’s to communicate that idea that ‘you and me’, we’re not alone; we’re going to stand up for one another. Everything else is just… me being tired and not caring about what I say, really.


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