Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Permanently bewildered and out of touch

This morning when I turned up for my second period class, before lunch, the gormless boy (second half of that post) was sitting at the front of the classroom with his mouth open, looking bewildered and goofy. This is normal for him. He always looks bewildered and goofy, and I thought nothing of it. (I was not really on top of things today. My brain is suffering from mid-semester sag.)

After I'd finished calling the roll, he suddenly looked even more bewildered, then got up and dashed for the door. That was when I realized that he'd come to the wrong class again. He is in my third period class after lunch, not second period. He looked back anxiously as he closed the door, and I smiled in what I hoped was a reassuring manner.

"See you later!" I said, and then wondered if I had been tactless. Perhaps I should have pretended not to notice him. Too late. How ARE you supposed to react to someone who, seven weeks into semester, still hasn't figured out what time his classes start?

At lunchtime I told my colleagues about him as we were going up the lift for the third period class, and as I walked into my third period class and saw him sitting in the front row again (still looking bewildered and goofy) I had a revelation. If he had been born 80-odd years earlier, my student would have been a perfect candidate to become a post-war straggler. I’m not exactly sure why this feels so right, but it does. This is a kid who constantly struggles to understand what is happening in the world around him. He is permanently bewildered and out of touch.

The only class he has come to at the right time was the first one. Since then he has turned up in at the wrong time every single week, always at least an hour early. He sits in the empty room all through lunchtime as well, I discovered a couple of weeks ago, probably wondering where everybody is. Or perhaps he comes so early because he is afraid of being late. He desperately wants to do the right thing.

I don't think he needs to worry about being late, though. He gets earlier by the week. The two and a half hours today was a new record, and I'm wondering if he'll break it next week.

Today I gave my students a little writing at the end of class. I watched him as he worked at it, head bent over the paper and tongue between his teeth as he struggled to finish long after everybody else had packed up and gone and students for the next class were beginning to wander in. As I waited I imagined him in the jungle, cooking lizards with a similarly dedicated air. He gets there in the end, and always insists on finishing. It just takes him longer than everybody else.

A LOT longer.


Lia said...

That's why he shows up so early - he's hoping you'll give him a head start.

It'd be comical if it wasn't so sad.

Maybe it's comical anyway.

Pearl said...

Maybe he has a part of his brain processing different. Learning Disability could explain it. Could be spaciness from home problems too I guess.