I could write a whole blog about Tony. In this culture where ‘saving face’ is so important it can be seen as embarrassing to admit that perhaps your child has special needs. As a result all manner of kids get thrown to the mercy of the general public and private school populations and us teachers, almost none of whom have any training for dealing with these kids, are left to cope as best we can. This can be by turns infuriating, depressing and tiring but with Tony it’s all gravy.
He arrived in one of my classes a few months ago and at first we had no idea what to do with him. His grasp of English was great for his English but trying to give him the simplest instructions to get involved with our games was like teaching hopscotch to a particularly obstinate brick. After some time and perseverance (and convincing the class that there’s the rules and then there’s the Tony rules) he’s been adopted by his classmates as something of a mascot, both them and I becoming rather protective of him. Constantly smiling, eyes always wide with wonder and prone to occasionally grabbing his crotch like Michael Jackson, he’s our sustenance whenever lessons get difficult or dull.
It’s his random outbursts which grant me most succour though. Fleeting snatches of poetry, profundity or deeply disturbed imagery which would have HP Lovecraft edging towards the door. Sometimes it’s a simple team name like “Listen to the bees. They are smiling and they say ‘We like honey’.” as opposed to the usual “Rabbit” or “Car”. Sometimes it’s the unexpected answers to questions such as “Tony, what do you eat for breakfast?” “I cough up spider-juice cakes.” It’s the unprompted insanity which makes my day though, yesterday being a case in point.
The scene was set thus – a series of food flashcards on the board, above each a simple drawing to prompt the kids for the pronoun required. A stick figure man for ‘he’, a woman for ‘she’, a pair for ‘they’ and for ‘it’ I decided to do a monster. All hairy, big teeth, frowning eyes, they love that kind of thing. No sooner was the sketch completed than the class start excitedly shouting “Haha, monster, it!” and laughing, my intended reaction.
And there it is, Tony’s unmistakable voice behind me, utterly earnest and deadpan, unleashing the inner workings of his cerebrum. “Because god is a monster too. Very scary and he is angry. Do not look at him.” Followed in a hoarse whisper by “I did not say anything.”
Ho. Lee. Fuck.
Was he stringing random thoughts together? Is he the captive of some bizarre cult? Or is he just smart enough to have figured out that if a god were to actually exist it would have to be one seriously twisted motherfucker in order to come up with the world we find ourselves in? My money’s on the first option but I’m still hoping it’s the last
There will doubtless be more from Tony to follow, stay tuned…