Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 81

Lukie and I had a relatively easy morning. First period was off the chain for a while, but she got them back in line with her amazing shaming power. Third period was a dream; we wrote good notes home for more than half the students in that class today.

On the way back from taking them to lunch Lukie and I broke up a mob scene of unattended sixth graders in the hall. There were two young-ins dukin' it out hardcore in the middle of a mass of blue-shirted bodies. We got them apart and one young man's face was swelled up on one side like a volley ball. He was about four feet tall but built like a pit bull. Lukie got the kids back in their class room and seated, I got on my phone to ask why there was a sixth grade class upstairs with no adult present, meanwhile trying to assist a young lady suffering an asthma attack. Once we had things under control and the office knew the situation, I decided I better roll out because we had Rasheer's mother waiting for a parent-teacher conference. I asked Lukie if she wanted me to go take care of that while she waited for an administrator to come babysit the sixth-grade class. She said yes. I saw Nat Turner and he asked what I was doing. "We broke up a fight between sixth graders. D'Shawn and somebody else."

"D'Shawn my boy," Nat told me. "He a soldier."

Nat knows full well I know the implications of that remark. "You think that's a good thing, Nat?" I asked him.

"We don't make the world how it is. We just live with it."

Were I a character in The Wire, I'd have said "True, dat." Instead I told Nat that a few young men with the strength to be leaders could make a difference. He did what he always does when I talk to him that way--he shook my hand with a complex sequence of grips and fist-bumps, culminating in a hug/back-slapping manoeuver.

I talked to Rasheer's mom about how well her daughter had done the last couple of days. Then I saw Nat Turner and The Gardener in the hallway. They asked me where I live at in the County, and I said "County? I live near Whitelock and McCulloh."

"Sheeet," The Gardener said. "Mr. G go hard." The Gardener is an honor-roll kid. He's a light-skinned half-white student with long reddish-blond braids. He wrote his memoir essay about going to juvey hall for having sex with his girlfriend in school in the sixth grade.

Lukie approached looking dazed and shocked. She was carrying her pink sweater in one hand. It was covered in blood splotches. "As soon as you left they started fighting again. It was a mess. I couldn't control a room full of tiny tots for ten minutes."

I felt terrible for leaving her, but had figured she of all people would be fine down there. Nat said "Was it D'Shawn again? I bet he messed that other punk ass up. My nigga."

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