Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Ten Going on Thirty

Will you ever go back to teaching in that snotty school? My bestest friend stared back at me expectantly. No. The oodles of money they pay me to molly-coddle those rich bitches-to-be and those lazy in-need-of-sharpening little boys simply isn't worth it. Except for one. That ten-year-old I adored so.


I'd been warned, before he joined our class, of this little terrorist. He was disruptive in class. Manic. Short attention span. I'd expected a little monster, but I was pleasantly surprised. Sharp. Very sharp little kid. He knew what I was talking about the first time I explained French pronouns while the rest of the kids looked back at me with various levels of confusion. As expected, he got bored the second and third time I had to repeat myself. No wonder he's disruptive. He learns faster than the rest. How could the head mistress have missed this?

One Tuesday he hung back after I'd dismissed my Beginner's class. I was running late, but I thought he might want to talk.

"Hey Lance. That was a cool pic you drew. Do you really like tanks?"


"Strange though, are there always cigarette butts strewn around your living room?"

"That's the rec room. Yeah, my tito's."

"Your uncle lives with you?"

"Nah, he's my mom's boyfriend."

Dangerzone. It would probably be best if I steered clear of the Dad subject. Lance is playing with the colored chalk, leaving green and red marks on his white collar.

"Oh, I see. What about those magazines with the naked women on the cover?"

"Playboy? He leaves them out like that."


"Ok. Do you have any close friends here?"

"Here in school? No. They don't like me."

That's because they're snotty adolescent bitches and slow-learners who wouldn't get you.

"Why is that?"

"Because I'm fat."

"Nah, you're not fat. Just chubby. That's normal for a kid your age."

"Am too. They don't like me because I'm fat."

"Have you got any brothers or sisters?"

"Yeah. An older sister and brother."

"Do you hang out with them sometimes?"

"My sister's 26. She's married. And my brother's 23."

"Don't you hang out with your brother?"

"Nah. He's always out partying. He's like a vampire, asleep during the day and awake at night."

Ok. Absent mother. Absent father. Absent siblings and a pervert step-dad. Great.

"Oh. Well, have you got any friends in your neighborhood?"

"Sure. One. His name's Ryan. We play sometimes, but not often."

"So, what do you do most of the time?"

"I play computer games. I'm really good at them."

He'll develop great social skills for sure.

"Do you like our class?"


He finishes seat work at record speed. Then terrorizes his classmates. I can tell he likes my class. He shows up.

"Are you happy Lance?"

"What do you mean? Today?"

He stops playing with the chalk and looks up to stare at me, his smooth forehead wrinkled in query.

"Yeah. Today. Yesterday. Tomorrow."

"I dunno. I guess. Yeah, I'm happy."

"Ok. That's good."

He drops the chalk and dusts off his little hands. He makes a big show of standing up and dusting off his pants too.

"Mademoiselle? I've got to go."

"Alright. I'll see you on Thursday?"

"Yeah. Au revoir."

"Au revoir."

I'd wanted to talk more, but I'd sensed he was growing impatient with all the questions. Poor bright kid. The brave front he put up every day. Resident bad boy. Devil-may-care laughter. Arrogant swagger. Problem child. Problematic child. Heart-breaker of mine.

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