Monday 13 May, 2013:
Slade’s not back yet. Which makes school even more tiring, today. I go to the gym anyway (trying to make it a no-brainer), and I feel better after, but still tired.
It’s partly because I’ve been up with Kepaoa half the night. He’s angry with the KB’s, seeing the chipped tooth which Elroy tried to hide from us. We talk about that, and about Teri, and then suddenly, in the middle of saying something else he tells me, with a yawn and a big sigh, “But Miss… I love fighting so much. I can’t help it.”
“I know,” I say. “And that’s not a bad thing, Kepaoa. It’s part of who you are.”
He nods, looking at me.
“You gotta use it,” I say. “But use it for all the right reasons.”
A minute later, he falls to sleep so peacefully. Honestly, sometimes I just wanna rub his head for a second as he lays there snoozing; sometimes I do that, and he opens one eye and smiles at me.
Tuesday 14 May:
Sitting here at my desk, at the end of my stupid short break, as Precious, Lauren and Michaela from 9 Social bump at my window. I can hear them talking:
“Miss, you’re pretty,” says one of them.
“Eww!” says someone else.
“Miss, you’re a loner,” says Precious.
Damn right, I think.
Wednesday 15 May:
After school, I patiently and tiredly get my stuff ready for tomorrow, and then I take Kepaoa and Paki to training, and get myself to the gym.
Kepaoa hasn’t been at course today. I’ve already growled at him, which makes Paki laugh. In reply, Kepaoa wrinkles his nose and starts singing along in a squeaky voice to the song that’s playing in the car.
“Oh my gosh,” I sigh. “Here we go…”
“Hah!” Kepaoa says, adjusting his singing voice fractionally towards normal. “Do a U turn here, Miss,” he adds as an aside (we’re approaching a long queue at the railway tracks).
“Ok.” I turn the car round, saying conversationally to Paki “Let’s get this problem child to training.”
Paki snorts from the back, and Kepaoa grins and stretches out. “Not a problem child – a problem solver,” he announces, making us laugh even more.
When I drop them off, “Any of that cake left at yours?” Kepaoa asks, hopefully.
“Yup, heaps,” I tell him.
Somewhere along the route home, I receive a text from Kepaoa, which said: Ms it algudz if I eat that cake? Or nah??”
I actually laugh out loud, this tickles me so much. ‘Algd, want me to drop it off later?’
Yehp nly if thats algudz wichu ms? Hah
Haha ur penalty is u have to go course tomoro
Yeahp cwt hah algdz
And I can see how hard he’s trying to keep himself positive, and just do regular things; look after himself. Especially now Elroy’s banged up in juvey again – this time they’ve put him somewhere up north. Poor Elroy, who hates to be restrained: under lock and key once more.
Friday 17 May:
9 Social: Deshaun and Jackson start getting stroppy over a thrown pencil (which I blame the wrong person for).“Teachers always…” protests Jackson. “Teachers never…” adds Deshaun. I just about lose it. Biff Jackson out into the block, where I must say he waits patiently. Growl at Deshaun, and then at everyone else too. Precious (who turns out to be the actual pencil thrower) waits until the very end of class to a) tell me and b) apologize for her crime – because of my wrath.
Yup. The ‘real’ problem isn’t the pencil at all. It’s the utter rebellion I feel in my mind at having to somehow be that teacher-person. You know, I just can’t do it. Can’t. Do. It.
Luckily Jackson and I have always gotten along well in the past, so we resolve the situation quite fast; same with Deshaun who comes up at the end and says, “Miss, I’m sorry for being a dick.”
Kepaoa texts me later. I go pick him up from the bus stop at the mall. He tells me he’s been to watch his mate’s netball game. His ‘mate’ turns out to be a 26 year old chick called Mele, who’s got a crush on him (she’s told him so).
“Teri’s gonna kill me if she knows,” he says, as we near Carthill.
“Hmm…” I say, considering this possibility. “Well, if the boot was on the other foot, if Teri was hanging out with some guy who had a crush on her – you’d be mad, too.”
A little moment of silence, then “Ah, yeeeeh,” Kepaoa admits.
“So just be careful?” I suggested. “Cos maybe you’re just playing with fire, here.”
“But I don’t feel like that about her,” Kepaoa says. “She’s just a mate, to me.”
“Yeah, but it might not feel like that to her,” I point out. “If she really has got a crush on you.”
“I met her at the gym,” Kepaoa tells me. “I saw her looking at me a few times, and then one day she came over and said hi.”
“Ohyup,” I say, non-comittally.
“And now she always says, ‘Hi cutie,’ and stuff, when she sees me.”
“What, Miss?” Kepaoa says, kind of grinning at me.
“Bit of a hoe…” I mutter, and then, “Just sayin.”
“Yeeh, I know watchu mean, Miss,” he sighs. “But honestly – I don’t feel anything for her.”
“When you’re sober…” I mutter again.
This cracks us both up, but Kepaoa still insists, “You got a point, Miss. But I don’t, honest truth. I’m not like that. I’m not a player, straight up.”
I look at him, knowing that he means this. Something in my heart softens, and I stop in my tracks and admit, “Yeah, I know,” and then, “You just like your compliments, aye.”
“Yeah Miss,” he said. “I do. I like it when girls wanna talk to me, and when they look at me and stuff. But it’s just… nothing, really. I’m committed, when I’m with someone. I’ve always been like that.”
“Yeah, I see it,” I tell him, and he nods.
“Maan, Kepaoa, some girl’s gonna be lucky with you one day – whether it’s Teri or whether it’s someone else,” I say, with sincerity and a touch of something like wistfulness. “Gonna get themselves a good man.”
“Thanks, Miss,” he says.
We’re parked out front of Montgomery Rd now, and Kepaoa suddenly says, “Miss – can I stay over at your place tonight?”
“You wanna talk to Teri now?” I say, gently.
“Not that,” he tells me. “I just feel like… hanging out with a friend.”
It touches my heart so much, the way he says it.
“Is it ok, Miss?”
“Yeah, course it is.”
So we go all the way back to Municipal.
“I’m just gonna crash when I crash,” Kepaoa remarks, stretching out on the couch and making himself at home. “You know what I’m like, Miss.”
“Sure do,” I agree, laughing. “All good though,” I tell him. “I’ll just chuck the blanket on you and leave the heater on.”
“Yeeeh,” Kepaoa says contentedly. “I love waking up nice and warm here.” He grins at me, and yawns.
We talk until 1am, then just as usual, Kepaoa falls asleep in the middle of saying something. His head shifts a bit; eyelids slide shut. One arm gently extends against the back of the sofa, as his breathing gets slow and regular. And I lay the blanket gently over him, turn off the lights, and go to bed.