It has been a stressfull week at school, don’t know why. Had some great
laughs tho over the week, along with tons of corrections and lots of
work doing the books for our company.
With my two classes of
fourth graders (16 year olds) I’m reading the history of the conspiracy
of Catilina (63 BC) in Latin, and also this very famous speech by
Cicero, in which he gets really furious and all worked up in the senate.
I always try to make it as real as possible, with a booming voice, a
face contorted in anger, and so on. Two of the guys were getting on my
nerves, and I punished them by making them learn by heart the first 10
lines of the speech, to be delivered next day, with intonation and
expression. They both did it, but… As one of them came up to the
front, I made him stand behind my desk. One of the other students
remarked: ‘Hey, Jef, with your red jacket, your skating trousers, your
hat on, behind that desk, you look like an MC’. A sparkle appeared in
the guy’s eye, and yes… It’s the first time ever that I heard that
speech being delivered in a rap style, with human beatbox noises and
lots of ‘yo’s and ‘man’s and all the appropriate moves. God I laughed
myself to tears ! It was so silly and yet great.
Thursday night was swell too. We didn’t do that much, but big fun was
had by all. I think Lovecraft lies spinning in the grave :-p
Faust has gone to the bank to see what he could afford as a loan. He’s
planning on finally buying a small house of his own. He can’t afford
much, but it should be feasible. Yesterday we started looking thru the
papers and the sites for sth interesting, but they’re all a bit far off
the station. Since he doesn’t have a car and works at impossible hours,
it should be within walking distance. He’s a train chef, btw. Heh, we
got bored after a few hours yesterday, and started a decent tickling
fight ! Always good fun, hehe.
On Monday me and Faust had a date
too: going into town, to the sales, to find a black overcoat for him
and some stuff for me. In and out of every store, only to discover they
had no coats, or not the right colour, or not the right size. With every
store Faust grew a bit grumpier, was so funny ! I got myself some
pyamas (was so cold the last couple of weeks when it was freezing
outside that much) and we both bought a minimalistic glass wallclock.
Bought a real nice pair of black pants too, don’t look too fat in them
(heh, my weight you just can’t hide, but I can make it look less bad),
and some books. When I came home, I found out they had forgotten one of
those safety clips on the pijjies, and the clock had some major
scratches on them. Grrr ! Headed back to those shops the next morning to
turn in the clock and get another one and get the clip removed. Found
two more pyamas, a very cool gray little sleevless vest (Bart sez I look
hip :-p), a black pullover, a gray fleece for Bart. Alas, no black
On a much sadder note: the Latin teacher whom I
substituted for in September 2001, a 42-year old mom of three, of which
the oldest one died at 15 from an aneurysm, is to be buried today. Her
youngest son is one of my first-graders. It was brain cancer, and I’ve
seen her deteriorate. God, it was awful, and so hard on her two boys: 14
and 12 (and her husband of course).
Jason took it pretty well, I
think. It’s not like it was unexpected: she came to the Christmas
breakfast in december, and she could hardly speak by then, was in a
wheelchair, couldn’t eat by herself… And yet she had the courage to
When in September I saw Jason was in my class and I had him
apart for a moment, I asked him how his mom was. He looked me in the
eyes very openly, and said: ‘Terminal, miss’. My heart ached.
later on, he once came to me after class and said, in a soft but very
clear voice, very simply: ‘You know, miss, Frederik would have turned 16
today’, and he smiled this sad smile. It affected me more than he could
ever imagine. He’s such a sweet smart kid, and yet he has to go thru
all this. First his bro, now his mom.
Last week he came up to me and
apologised for being a bit absent-minded in class: she had been
admitted to hospital. And on Wednesday, he came to me: ‘Sorry miss, I
didn’t study my vocabulary. Mom died on Monday’. Poor kid. As if I did
expect him to study while he lost his mom. I so felt like hugging him,
and it felt so out of place there and then, in that corridor, with the
students passing by.
There is nothing much I can do. I’ll attend
the funeral. And I’ll try to be there for him when he needs someone. I
just hope he has better persons to turn to than his crazy Latin teacher,
but in any case, I’ll be there.