My working life revolves around misunderstandings of various kinds. I make no complaint about that – on the contrary, as a teacher I see it as my raison d’être to embrace misunderstanding and the perpetrators of misunderstanding with the ardour of a seasoned preacher taking a miserable convict by the hand, inspiring him to join the flock and leave his life of sin behind.
I have an appointment with one of our school’s greatest sinners. He crashes through the door into my study.
‘Hello, Aaron, good of you to come. Take a seat.’
Aaron - a criminal by instinct, a thief by specialism - thinks I am trying to trick him with this sneaky ‘take a seat’ business. I can read the boy’s face – one beady eye is scanning an imaginary horizon to see if anyone is watching him. (He does this scanning thing instinctively - we are obviously alone in the office). Aaron’s other eye is on the chair, sizing up its weight (Can I run with it?) and market value (Who will buy it? How much will I get for it?)
I am not perturbed! I am not downhearted!
‘Sit down, Aaron’.
By this stage I have also started my own beady-eyed scanning of the room – what’s going to be missing if I turn my back? The stapler? A few pens? My computer?
Aaron lands his bum in the chair – he nods to himself, probably thinking something like ‘Nice chair that idiot Socks has got here. Fifty quid for it down the market, maybe?’
‘Aaron,’ – you have to keep repeating his name or his attention will be in outer-space before you’ve drawn your next breath – ‘Aaron, this is the second time you’ve been brought back to the school in handcuffs. Think about it. Do you want to end up in prison? What do you want to do with your life?’
Aaron looks back at me, his face, as always, more expressive than his words could ever be. His face says, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t care! It means absolutely jack all to me! Stop wasting my time, I’ve got some stealing to do! Fool!’
‘You know…’ I try to illuminate the issue for him ‘…when you leave school. What you want to do with your life? Have you ever thought about that?’
Aaron speaks for the first time since profaning my inner sanctum with his presence.
‘What I want to do in… in… the after life?’
Let us all embrace Aaron - I think we are making progress, albeit in a direction outside my remit.
(Note to readers: I've tried to moderate the tone of the words Aaron would be thinking... this isn't intended to be an x-rated blog, and I don't want to offend readers in more sophisticated parts of the world).