It was 15 seconds in when the trousers went down. Not mine. They belonged to the autistic child in the class. Coincidentally the lesson was on variation, which included the difference between boys and girls. If he’d gone commando he could have demonstrated at least one contrast.
It also happened to be a lesson being observed by a secondary school teacher. My look to her said “welcome to my world”. The boy explained later that he merely wanted to “scratch his bum”. I was secretly envious; I have to wait till assembly and subtly dry hump the radiator.
My class are very perceptive, having overdosed (accidentally) on whiteboard cleaner I spent the afternoon feeling wiped out from wiping out and they were quick to sense blood. It was like Komodo Dragons tracking their prey. Every mispronunciation or mix up of a name was alerted to me, every stutter or incorrect comment seized upon. I felt like a boxer taking too many head shots while the referee animatedly waits to jump in.
Then the real kicker; I innocently typed in ‘Things to do in Dorset’ and an image appeared of the Cerne Abbas Giant. It left the boys envious and the girls scarred for life.
We headed to the school photographer to create the illusion of perfection. I broke off from my frozen smile to keep telling the same kid to cut the gangsta pose. I could just imagine the parents “Oh darling you look simply radiant…why is that child next to you simulating pointing a gun at your head?”
The mini-mafioso is not surprisingly the bully of the class. Academically beige (evidence from a recent spelling test result “Is 3 out of 10 good?”) and temperamentally volatile (“I hate making choices!”) he is nonetheless entitled as class bully to not be crossed by any other child.
When a boy came to me and, in full view of the glacial stare of the knee-height knee capper, wrongly accused him of stealing a ball, well, I should have just given the bully the golden arse kicking ticket then and there. I went to a school which made ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ look like ‘Glee’ and the first rule is you don’t rat on a bully.
The second rule I just made up is ‘don’t engage in frantic waving with a child until you’re within a radius of around 1.5 metres’. As I sloped off home, I spotted a kid from my class in the distance. Kids get excited when they see you out of school and you momentarily feel like a Z-list celebrity (like that bloke from that film).
The kid started waving frantically so I instinctively did too. I realised after a few seconds he had no intention of stopping waving until we passed. I thought if I don’t replicate this I might not only hurt his feelings, but cause his mother to think I’m the kind of guy who thinks it’s acceptable to abruptly stop waving at a child.
So I carried on, despite the odd looks from street dwellers, curtain twitchers and passing motorists. I was also smiling inanely, the same grimace I’d held for the school photographer. My arm ached, my cheeks began to quiver but I soldiered on. Then, inexplicably, I started nodding too.
I now resembled the kind of person that neighbours describe as “a man who keeps himself to himself”. I was so relieved to eventually pass him I nearly cried for the first time since ratting on a bully.