Every penny

I’ve written a joke. An autistic kid, two dyslexics and 12 lower achieving children walk into a pub. With a teacher. The teacher says “15 pints of lager please” and the barman says “there’s more chance of your children making rapid accelerated progress than of you getting served”.

Okay, the punchline needs a bit of work, but that’s the expectation after the latest round of observations. Pardon my French, but j’ai travaillé mes bollocks off for this class, so it was dispiriting to hear some of them were not considered to be making suitable improvement.

Maybe I should blame the parents. Especially the one who forgot their child’s name in a recent conversation to me. I ran through the register till I jogged his memory. Perhaps I should blame the kids too. “Do your homework just like every other child in this class!” I urged one child, while trying to ignore the 19 other children sat doing their homework with him.

Another child caused alert arriving teary eyed to say she’d just lost her puppy. She’d last seen it outside school. I asked for a description, while she bawled uncontrollably. “Does it have a name?” I asked. “No” “Was it wearing a collar?” “No” “What colour is it?” “Red, with leaves on it…” “Poppy, it’s called a Poppy”.

The autistic child in my class veers from a deep, bewildered mindset to occasional lucidity. “I’ve drawn a caricature!” he suddenly exclaimed. On the one hand I enjoyed his use of the word ‘caricature’, on the other hand I was stunned that he’d managed to draw it on the back of the child in front of him, in front of me, using a permanent marker. Using another hand, either borrowed from someone or grafted onto me, he’d managed this unnoticed by another 2 adults and 29 children.

Coinciding with anti-bullying week (the one time of the year I can’t demand dinner money off the weaker children); it was the last week of our certificate system. This meant giving certificates to children who’d never had enough reason to win.

I was tempted to be honest. “This award goes to (name of deviant) for devising different ways to hurt children in the playground. Strangulation, anaesthetization and erotic asphyxiation being among my personal favourites”.

At least one child appreciated my efforts presenting me with a gift. Inside the envelope was a hand drawn one way ticket to Sri Lanka. I think the idea came from a good place, a better place than the one now occupied by the child sat missing his break. His particular crime? He allowed me to spend 15 minutes delivering an impassioned speech on how he can improve his lot at school, before revealing I was chatting to his twin. I never got Dad’s excuse for not stepping in sooner. I blame the parents and the kids.

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