Friday, January 18, 2008

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

A raft of mini-cabs pull up at the gates of the exclusion unit. I ask the Headmistress what i need to do. She shouts that i need to go down and lock the gate, and if any more taxi's arrive they'll have to wait. Then i need to go round making sure that the right kids get in the right cars. As she is talking she is also asking the cab drivers who they are booked for, and then she puts a name card on each windscreen. I need to collect the cards once the kids are inside the car. I ask the nearest driver who he is booked for, because he doesn't have a card on the windscreen. He tells me he is booked for Shauny.
The kids start coming out of the building and are shepherded into the cars one by one. Some cars start their engines up once their passenger is inside but the Head shouts to us to tell them to turn their engines off: they can't leave until everyone is inside their car. Turn your engines off and stay put. Shauny is coming out of the building and i motion to him that this car is his. He tries to get in the front and the driver locks the door and motions for him to get in the back. My voice breaks half way through, but i say it anyway, "If i don't see you again, look after yourself won't you Shauny?" He doesn't look at me, and keeps his head turned to the other window. All the kids are in the cars, the Head gives a signal, the gates are unlocked and the taxi's pull away in rank and file.

Shauny's been sent out of the classroom. He couldn't keep still. He kept getting out of his seat and leaving the room without permission. He'd also tricked me into letting him through a door; then his friend ran up behind me and somehow they managed to get into an area where they weren't supposed to be. Now were sitting in the assembly area. He's been told to sit down and finish the work that he nearly started in the classroom, but he can't keep still. He says he wants to talk, so i make conversation. I ask him about his old school, and what it was like, and his friends and his family, and what he likes to watch on TV. In between bits of conversation he gets up and rattles at the security doors and asks me to give him the key fob so he can get out. I just carry on talking and when he rattles the door too hard i say to him that the school will get him for criminal damage if he breaks anything. A couple of members of staff come through the room and shout at him to sit down and do as he's told.

I follow the group of five to the classroom and i am introduced to each of the five boys in the class. They immediately start making jokes about me, throw a couple of nicknames around between each other and ask me if i am a lesbian. Within the first five minutes, three of the boys have left the room. There are teachers in the corridor at the time, so i stay in the classroom, and while the two remaining boys throw insults back and forth i try and get Shauny to concentrate. I ask him questions about the task he has been set, and when he answers me, i say, "Okay write that down then", and he does. It's hard to pick out his answers because they run together with the stuff that is flying between him and the other boy, making them laugh and distracting them from what they're supposed to be doing. But he finishes a whole piece of work, even though he's only written a few lines, that's all he needed to do, and he gets his bonus points.

I'm late, so as i come into assembly the Head-teacher asks me to sit down, and i try and work out who's who. and who's doing what, to get my bearings. She makes some announcements and then goes through what will be happening in school today. The kids are given certificates for various achievments, but they don't get out of their seats, the Head reaches over instead and shakes hands with them and tells them well done. She hands over to the music teacher who asks everyone if they are ready to sing. When the group answers with a straggle of thirty or so yes's. He asks again, "Are you ready to sing?" and this time they answer with more conviction, "Yes" He presses a button on the laptop, making short movements upwards with his hands and arms for them to sing.

I look into the window of my mind
Reflections of the fears i know i've left behind

He sings the next line loudly before they do,
I step out of the ordinary
and then with them
I can feel my soul ascending
I am on my way
Can't stop me now and you can do the same
I think, oh fuck, i'm going to cry, and i join in -hoping this will stop me.
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
It's never too late to try
Too late a tear is escaping from the corner of my right eye.
You could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
What have you done today to make you feel proud?

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