Tonight, I keep thinking about the nod of mutual acknowledgment, unspoken understanding between a 14 year old student and myself. Nothing to it, right? Only an hour before that he told me to fuck off. In my face. Detail here isn’t as important as the fact he eventually stood up and apologised after my calm insistence that I simply “don’t want or deserve to be told to fuck off” (used those very words..). But then a week ago I heard how his father belted the hell out of him in the car in front of the school. Of his continuous troubles at home, at school. And more … “Fuck off” is like your nice middle class ‘good morning’ in his family. Reporting the incident and going down the punitive path would cheapen or, worse, prevent the silent, all-telling nod I treasure today. We sorted it out between us. Stable, calm, no-shouting and no threats or promises. He won’t turn into an angel overnight but he won’t tell me to fuck off again I am sure. We will still clash at times, I am sure too, but the bridge is built.
I seem to specialise in working with kids who tell me to fuck off, then give me a friendly shoulder-punch, nod, bump not long after. That my friends is … sublime.