Signs of power arise

Wednesday 23 January, 2013:

Human nature is so constituted, that it cannot honor a helpless man, although it can pity him; and even this it cannot do long, if the signs of power do not arise. (Frederick Douglass)


Every morning when I wake up, I still get that sinking feeling in my solar plexus… but it’s not as bad as it used to be. Ha, I write that like it’s a positive, and I guess it is. It’s still there… it’s there right now, as I write this very line. But it’s less than it was. And that’s something.

Maybe I’m starting to learn the game. And about time. But it feels like a slow process, and I just wish I could be quicker on the uptake.

I get impatient with myself, because I want to just be done with fear. But I guess it’s only the experience of fear that can get you over it, hmm. If you’ve never been afraid, you can’t say: I have no fear.


Sandra Martens calls me; I’m at school. She wants to know if I’ve spoken to Tau. I tell her that yes I have, and he said he was holding the stuff for someone else – I don’t know who – he wouldn’t tell me. I say he was sorry, and upset, and that I was upset too, and had told him I felt unsafe about being put at risk this way (which is certainly true in one sense). And that Tau assured me he would never do anything like this again.

And that’s where our conversation ends. Except that she does ask me if I still have the search warrant. I say I probably have it somewhere – and that I’ll look for it.

To be honest, I don’t know exactly where it is. I put it out of sight (and mind, obviously) months ago. But obviously I’m not going to look for it either.

I don’t know if the police have even finished talking to me, either. I hope so – but I don’t know.


When I get home, Tau arrives with a group of boys. Although I’m unsurprised that they feel the need to be drinking quantities of alcohol at present, I intimate to them all that if they’re planning on staying here, they needed to have a ‘quiet night’. This is met with general nods of heads, etc. But Tau looks kind of grumpy at being thwarted, even though I don’t put it in so many words. After a bit, he suggests to the boys that they should go round to Fitzroy, and they were (as ever) at his disposal. He’s ok with me, really. It’s just the same ol’ same ol’…  we’re tugging the power a little bit this way and a little bit that.


All this has made me think about a few things, that’s for sure.

First thing is that I definitely don’t want to stay in secondary teaching much longer ( I already knew that, but it’s just confirmed it, on so many levels).

Second thing is that I’ve got to be way more cautious, and not just assume that I’m somehow ‘protected’ by my own personal code of ethics, because not everyone is going to subscribe to it. I already knew that too. But once again, it just brought it home to me.

Third thing is that I’ve got to make a distinction between Tau having freedom and autonomy here (which he does) and having free rein (which he does not, particularly in regard to his friends and their activities) And yup, I already knew that one as well.

Fourth thing is that I need to value my own freedom and autonomy, and I need to stand up for myself, and (perhaps more importantly) as myself. With school; with the law; with what I say and what I write – and even with Tau. Because as much as I want to protect him from all harm – I need to look out for myself too. Ha, and that’s kind of a new one, for me.

Fifth thing is that I need to have some grown-up allies in this milieu. I don’t mean my friends, like Mia, La-Verne, and Kuli, who aren’t really involved – or not in any practical way. I need to talk to other people who actually know what’s what. And I have literally no idea where they might be found.


Friday 25 January:

Actually, I’m feeling alright. I got this kind of ‘every day is a good day’ feeling, sprung from who knows where.

Tau is all ready for his appointment this morning. He texts me at 8, and I go pick him up, and we head off to Work & Income.

Take him home round 11, and Sheree makes me a coffee. She looks out some paperwork that the caseworker needs, and finds a lot of Tau’s old report cards; primary school stuff – his ‘portfolios’, with samples of work, and photos. We leaf through them and cluck at one another.

Tau chuckles; he’s actually quite pleased at the find.

“Loook…” we croon, reading stories and looking at fishing photos.

“I was a good boy then,” comments Tau. “Before I discovered guns, money, and drugs.”

“You still are a good boy,” I tell him. I see him register my tone, and he doesn’t scoff; instead he just nods, softly.


Hell, I can’t believe I’m even writing this stuff down, some days. Haven’t kept any hard copy at all since the end of August. But I just do it; I have to do it. It’s the thing that keeps me steady. And it’s more than that – it’s my report from the battlefield. For what that’s worth. And who knows… how I’ll ever find a way to communicate any of it to anyone. But if there’s a way, I’ll find it. It isn’t just for me – I don’t know who it’s for, exactly. But I guard it and I kind of treasure it, all the same. So that one day maybe I can say something, about this place and this time, and these very brave people.




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