Zak greeted me with a handshake on my first day and seemed pleased to see me. Zak, as mentioned in earlier posts, is the boy I am providing 1:1 support to in this, my first teaching assistant position. It was only once outside Roisin’s office that his nerves began to show, he paced uneasily and endlessly, asking about the minutiae of the structure of his day.
The difficulties I will be facing became more clear as we sat down to begin work. Zak was soon complaining of fatigue (“I can’t sleep when I think about my country” – he is from Iran) and of neck ache (he was involved in a car accident in October). I broke from the scheduled work to ask him about whether he has any medication, but according to Zak, the doctors’ advice was to “drink hot and cold water”. I just naïvely googled this to find out if this suggestion has any credence, it came up with ‘Does Drinking Cold Water After a Meal Cause Cancer?’ or ‘Does drinking hot water help weight loss?’. The doctors’ advice is still pretty inconclusive then.
Roisin advised that Zak will be visiting the LEA at the end of the month. He will be formally assessed for a statement of special educational needs. He will also be invited for therapeutic sessions with a councillor, my earlier post ‘Zak and Me’ demonstrates why this is wholly necessary.
We moved to playing snakes and ladders (in a mathematical quiz stylee), although Zak was keen just to talk about snakes. I told him about a prehistoric snake, whose fossils were discovered last year. It was 13 metres long, weighed the size of a small car and its body was 1 metre thick. Kids, particularly boys, seem to love stuff like this.
The conversation took a darker turn though, as Zak talked about an uncle, imprisoned in Spain. I wasn’t sure if this was a flight of fantasy, but Roisin later explained that his uncle was a suspected terrorist. The only light relief came when Zak, confusing ‘tourist’ with ‘terrorist’, exclaimed “all tourists should be thrown in jail!”.
Zak does though, have a tendency to more fanciful imaginings, he spoke of a fish (called “fish”) that he no longer had, as it had “been taken away by a friend of my family”. Roisin again, later corrected this story, Zak had killed the fish by stabbing it. Zak’s brother, who is in Year 4, had told her the truth on this occasion.
I still can’t correlate these kind of actions with the child sat next to me, although it is early days. Maybe I am preoccupying myself too much with the lighter moments he provides. One example was on the subject of a Wholphin, a hybrid of a whale and dolphin. He immediately asked “who won?”. I explained I hadn’t witnessed a fight, just seen one in a sea park.
My favourite quote from today happened after Zak asked if I was married. When I replied I was, he asked if my wife knew about my job!. Who knew that being a male primary teacher was such a shameful profession!, perhaps being a tourist is a better option.