24 May

howling cub

As you get older the memories of the past begin to get sharper than those of yesterday, or for that matter even 5 minutes ago.  I’ve been thinking a lot about a young lad I taught 20 odd years ago in the last few days.

G was a lively, bright lad of 5yrs, small for his age and the youngest of 7 siblings.  I have no problem with large families I have 6 kids of my own it is background info.

I was teaching in a local school very near to my home, a conscious choice I have always been something of an idealist .  I wanted to be a part of the community I taught in, my own children attended the school to show the community that I valued the school myself.  This meant that over the years I taught there I built up relationships with families as a teacher and a parent.  As usual I have digressed!

Getting back to G!  His older siblings were involved in gangs very very common in the area.  One day there was some minor trouble in the playground, a usual 5yr olds squabble dealt with by a member of staff, not even significant enough to be sent inside for a *time out*.  Another child had said something unkind to G about his size… a little bit of mutual pushing had ensued but the staff member had got across the playground quickly, told both lads to stop, heard the tale from both and decided it was a flash in the pan.  Even now I cannot find any fault in the actions of that teacher.  The kind of bread and butter incident that would be forgotten by break’s end.

Next morning at register the kids were all sat cross legged on the floor in front of me, settling down and getting there wiggly chats out of the way.  I noticed G had a different expression on his face than usual, tight, furrowed brow as if he  was worried.  I called him over and put my arm around his waist as was my habit and acceptable still then.

“wassup mate?” I said (yeah I know standard English!)

Unusually he wouldn’t make eye contact and was being a bit *shifty* for want of a better word… I remembered the minor squabble and asked him again.

“Hey, what’s bugging you G?”  He whispered “I have to pay back, my bruvver said I have ta”

My mind went through the list of brothers in seconds, depending on WHICH brother I knew this could be a tough one!

“O yeah, which one?”  I asked, my heart sunk when he named the eldest, I knew he was of ranking this WAS going to be trouble.  I had no proof just a terrible sinking feeling in my heart, how could I find out more?  He’d clammed up but had been touching his pocket.

Even then we couldn’t search the kids just on a hunch so I decided to play it clever.  Times like this it’s good to be a bit of a fruit cake (purple hair, ripped jeans and biker gear was my usual garb so it was expected!)

I had thought of a way to get into his pockets without searching!

“Right Fishes, we’re going to have a game first before we start…who can do this?”  I turned to the wall and did a handstand.  The kids all oohhed and aahed the fish were hooked.  “I’ll help you, grab those cushions pop them down here we’ll all have a go, yeah?”

I picked the *best sitters* first 3 or 4 of them to be helped try amidst much laughter even G was defrosting.

“Come on G, you’re being good you have a turn!”

G came eagerly and had his turn…  I held his legs against the wall for the briefest of times with a tiny little shake 😉 CLUNK onto the floor dropped

Stanley Knife

I scooped it up quickly before he was the right way up again, fixed blade not even a retractable one!

“G you could have dropped your bits off”  I said, “that’s so dangerous, I’m going to have to take it and ask the Head to talk to your mum!”

I gave him a hug and sent two kids to the office with a message for someone to come, I don’t know whose heart was banging the most his through his t shirt or mine.  It seemed to take forever for someone to come to sit with the kids, somehow I got them to go to their tables and started on some work so I could take G to the Head and explain what had happened.  Returning to the class and carrying on as best as I could wondering what was going to happen and thanking God no one had been hurt.

It turned out that he had been told he had to cut the lad who had teased him or his Bro would do worse to him to make him *man up*… 5yrs old ?????

G was excluded…I saw him in the High Street about 10 yrs later… he came up to me for a hug with the immortal words “Do you remember me miss?”

I can safely say I did.

Children learn what they live


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