The games we play

Roisin has perfected a technique to get Zak to work. She threatens to phone his Dad. The pattern is ‘phone picked up,  pen picked up, phone put down, pen put down etc’. It’s like observing the conditioning of a lab rat. I’ve developed a technique inspired by ‘Just a Minute’, a quiz show in which contestants must speak for a minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition. If I spot a child that I know Zak will fight, I engage Zak in conversation just long enough for the child to pass. This is almost verbatim from today:

Me: So Zak did I show you this mosquito bite on my wrist? I was bitten while running the other day; it’s a small bite, so I reckon it was a small mosquito, not from one of those large mosquitoes. It itches y’know? That’s what bugs me about mosquitoes, why don’t they just take the blood and run? why do they need to leave that little bit of poison that makes it itch, it’s so annoying, and it’s difficult to remove the sting, it can be done, I did it once, picked it out with a pin (boy sails past) so, any questions?

The ‘Social Skills’ lesson was once again a disaster. Earlier in the day I’d hidden questions on paper around the playground. I hadn’t anticipated the level of curiosity in kids and by the afternoon lesson they’d all been removed. We tried instead some role-play to reinforce ‘Stranger Danger’. Zak, playing the role of stranger, approached me, as a child in a Shopping Centre. “Excuse me, I’m a murderer” was his opening line.

Another unsuccessful role-play followed, this time between me and the class teacher Kate. I was relegated to a Mr ‘I can’t believe she just said that!’ role. Kate threw herself into her part with great abandon, saying ‘F your Mum!” to me. We’d hoped the children would be shocked into submission, that it would make them see how unpleasant and shallow this remark is. Instead, they howled with delight at Kate’s audacity. “I’m going to tell my mum what you said” I mentioned to Kate, as we left the classroom.

The Head Teacher was left equally disgruntled with a response she received. She assured the children that the school was not on fire, that the afternoon’s fire alarm was just a test. She was temporarily drowned out by the disappointed groans.

As I headed off, a girl was being talked down from a climbing frame. The potential ‘jumper’ was refusing all offered help. I was going to suggest to her that she’s got everything to live for, but judging by her grades it’s debatable. I only hope she’s not still there tomorrow morning.  It’s refreshing sometimes to see a child being a headache to someone else. It was also nice, when asked by Zak’s Dad, in broken English “Zak…give you headache?” to say “No, he had a good day”.


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