Monday, 23 September 2013

And then I called the child an idiot

Idiot is the classroom's c-word.

It carries a legacy of violence and humiliation that shot him and I back into the teacher/pupil relations of the days of the dunce hat.

It just popped out, without resentment or bitterness.

It was break duty and I was making my innocuous disciplinary rounds - tennis balls, footballs and cricket bats were flying across the playspace and I was frowning. I realised that I was flagging towards an energy dip, so I popped inside to grab a lovely hot coffee.

I cooled it down enough to drink and put it into my Thermos flask.

I re-entered the playground and unbeknownst to me, Waleed had seen me.

Waleed is one of the kids I have in mind when I wrote in previous posts about my unjustifiable favourites. You an justify favouritising a kid who works hard, is polite and follows instructions. It is harder to justify favouritising a boy like Waleed, who occasionally is intentonally disruptive because he finds it funny to be cheeky.

I taught Waleed last year and since then, I've not really seen much of him. My emergence into the playground set him off, and with gusto, he was running towards me.

I didn't know this. I was as oblivious to him running at me as he was oblivious to the hot coffee in my hand.

With remarkably awful timing, he smashed into me from behind, putting his arms around me in some weird 'this is aggressive enough to be acceptable to my street cred' hug. Coffee shot from my mouth, narrowly missing the child whose problem I was pretending to listen to, and it swilled up and out of my flask, soaking my hand in very hot coffee.


It just escaped me. I wasn't even thinking it, but the word just oozed out. Kids who saw the whole thing stood around caught between being shocked at me calling Waleed an idiot, and feeling the need to  hold back their laughter at me dripping with hot coffee.

Waleed apologised immediately, before the fact that I called him an idiot even registered. As soon as it registered, and despite him typically going about his life with bravado, he looked deeply hurt.

Memories shot by. Waleed and I dropping some raps over some grimey dubstep beats. Waleed receiving a handshake after we finally got him aceing his spelling test. Waleed proudly climbing into the facepalmingly awful binbag costume I made for him. Waleeds disarmingly sentimental end-of-year card.

With one utterance, it felt like that had been erased.

Idiot is the classroom's c* * * .

It carries a legacy of violence and humiliation that shot him and I back into the teacher/pupil relations of the days of the dunce hat.

I genuinely loathed myself and when I tried to apologise he ran away.

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