X was trouble. He didn’t mean to be trouble. He just ended up in trouble.
There was the time X came to me, indignant because another boy had punched him in the toilets. Trying to be fair to the notoriously trouble-prone X, I quizzed the other boy closely.
“What are you playing at? How dare you punch him?”
“We were standing in the toilets…..”
“And he turned round and peed on my shoes.”
Then there was the occasion when he tried to poke his tongue through the grille of the fan in the library. You get the picture.
Sadly I cannot remember any further incidents involving X. I should have followed the example of an elderly retired teacher I once knew, who wrote down every incident in his career and got two modestly profitable books out of his diaries. This has been repeated more recently by Gervase Phinn.
I disliked hardly any of the children I taught, and I tried very hard not to have favourites, but I suppose I felt very sympathetic towards the guilelessly naughty, particularly boys, who frequently knew they were going to get into trouble but went and did it anyway. As I tiresomely and repeatedly pointed out in assemblies, when a child simply says: “Yes, I did it- sorry” it’s very hard to get cross.
Y was also trouble, in a very different way. When we were first married, Mrs O. would come in to school to do cooking with children from my class. She found Y at breaktime copying down a recipe for scone pizzas (a very good recipe). “You don’t have to do that,” she said.
“Oh, I’m going to cook it for my dinner, Miss,” he told her. Y’s mum did not spend a lot of time looking after him. Hence it was no surprise when he came in one morning and told us that he’d been down the pub with her and that she’d been arrested after a punch-up. He matter-of-factly went on to say that he’d been put with a new lady who said he could call her Mum. Later I heard that he had been expelled (that’s ‘permanently excluded’, children) from secondary school for head butting another student.
Much later we met a smart young man in the street. He told us that he was Y, and (justifiably proudly) that he was now a male nurse.
My teaching career, mostly in leafy suburbs, was however very peaceful and uneventful compared to a huge number of the people I am still proud to call colleagues, doing a superb job in trying and even threatening circumstances round the country and around the world. My apologies to them for these minor musings.