Monday 5 November, 2012:
11 Social are writing practice essays, and Slade’s quite happy to just draw, sitting at the front table and chatting to me. About this and that – and showing no inclination to gap early. In fact, I think he just likes having a little korero.
At one point, he looks through all the graff stuff I’ve kept since it started (all the drafts, bits and pieces from everyone) “Whose is this, Miss?” he asks, scoffing at most of them. He likes Inia’s NOISE (even though it’s ‘old school’) but turns up his nose at all Andre’s RAGE hits. Then HZRD gets a couple of sneers as well, and I bat Slade with a piece of paper, as he sidesteps me, cackling, “Amo…” But wisely, Tau’s efforts don’t come in for criticism. “Nah, that’s awgud,” Slade says, looking at a throwaway CLUZO piece, just dashed off with a biro. I know he’s choosing to be kind for my sake, and it touches my heart very much.
I think Slade knows I can’t be teased about Tau, or not really. There’s something sensitive about Slade, and he understands that it would hurt me a little bit. Perhaps he responds to that vulnerability because he feels that way about certain things, too. He tells me that he doesn’t go round to Zion’s in the weekend: “I just stay at my pad… and get fucked off with my fuckin cousin,” he says.
“Hey, you should go hang out with Quest; he’s just up the road,” I say, matter of factly.
“Yeah, I know… but he might just want to kick it with the CP boys.” Slade shrugs, and I see that he suffers a little bit, because of this.
“Nah, nah, Zion’s not like that,” I say, meaning it. “You know what he’s like; he’s a bit shy, that’s all. He’s a humble guy.”
“Yeah, he’s awguds – but the boys might just be like, who’s this? Might be like, what’s he doing here?”
“They won’t be like that,” I say. “They’ll be all good with you, honest, they’re not like that at all. Well, not the ones I know – the main ones.”
I tell Slade about how Zion mentioned starting his own crew. When I get to the part where he said, “CP’s useless sometimes,” Slade laughs, nodding. I go on, saying how I asked Zion who’d all be in his crew. And his reply: Maybe just me and Rook.
“Far yeah, that’d be mean as,” Slade says, with a kind of gratitude at both the story and the telling of it. “When did he tell you that, Miss. Where was I?”
“Um… it was before school, on Thursday, or maybe Friday…” I try to remember. “Zion just came in here, and we were talking – you weren’t at school yet.”
“Oh,” he says, happily. He’s sitting on the bean bag now, round the corner behind my desk. He kicks his legs out, settles back in contentment, to pore over the graff drafts. And I can’t help wishing that it could stay like this, that the long and potentially troublesome holidays weren’t just round the corner.
I spend a bit of time with my class and their essays, then come back to Slade, and we just talk some more, and he tells me, “I hope I don’t get into trouble in the holidays.”
“I hope so too,” I say, very honestly.
“It’s too long… and there’s nothing to do except get into trouble, everything gets me into trouble.”
“Mmhmmm,” I nod, thinking about it a bit. I say, “Except painting.“
“Yeah,” Slade says. “When I paint, it’s all good. Takes my mind off everything else. You know, Miss, I can pass up stoneys and alkies and everything, for painting.”
“I know,” I say. “I know you can.” I feel very tender towards him.
“Miss?” he says. “Could we… get paint? I’ll buy it – I’ll buy a box?” He sounds so hopeful and I just nod and say, “Nahh, we will, ok? We’ll go, with Zion. Into the city, k?”
“Yip,” he says. “Awguds” Then, “When can we go?”
“Any time you want.”
“Ok, sure thing,” I say. “Let’s find out when Quest can come, and we’ll go.”
Then, “Slade,” I say. “I just don’t want you guys to lose the plot, in the holidays, ok?” I laugh, and so does he, but I’m kind of serious. I sigh, saying, “I know school’s dumb sometimes… but at least it gives you something to do, aye.”
“Hard,” he says, with feeling.
Tuesday 6 November:
Today’s alright, it’s busy. Have to pack up my room, and teach at the same time. I’m about to get the year 9’s to help me shift stuff upstairs, then Slade strays past, looking over his shoulder hopefully. He’s out of English because, as he tells me: ‘Everyone’ is wagging, there’s ‘no-one’ there.
“Ok, ok…” I say, enlisting his help to cart boxes upstairs to the Faculty office.
9 Social are pretty much left to their own devices, as we make trip after trip to the Lundia shelves. They work from the books, and are actually quite good, causing Slade to remark: “They’re much better than most of the other year 9 classes – those sookies.”
“Yeah, they’re far better,” I agree.
A few other kids are are out there wagging. When they see Slade carrying my folders, one of them says “Teacher’s pet…” as he goes by.
“Alday,” he replies, without the slightest hesitation. He adds, “Eaa, shame…” and curls his lip at her.