Saturday, 2 April 2011

Monday Memories. Encounters with J.

I am back today with an entry to the Monday memories prompt. This weeks idea was remember a gift you have been given.
Well this week while I was at work I had another encounter with a little boy who attends one of the schools where I clean and I have been thinking about him ever since.
Jeremiah is a little boy, slightly chubby with the biggest most soulful dark brown eyes you would ever see on any little 8 year old boy, he looks to be of islander appearance.
My first encounter with Jeremiah, names changed of course, was last year. It was well after school hours and he was wandering around the school grounds, just being....Jeremiah. He came in to the large foyer between the back class rooms and looked around hesitantly then wandered up to my son who was vacuuming nearby and asked politely if he could go into that class room over there because it was his class room and he wanted to take a photo of it. He had his Mum's digital camera and was quite happy to just go into the room take his picture and leave. I thought at the time, that it was a bit strange for him to be hanging around school at the time of day when everyone else had left but he seemed a nice enough little boy and was meaning no harm. We smiled and talked about how cute we thought he was.
Since then I have come across him a few times and have always found him to be, to my mind, a deep thinking little fellow, to the point that to look into those big brown eyes meant looking inside his mind and seeing the cogs ticking over as he verbally works things through in his own unique little 8 year old's fashion. Maybe he has found me a willing ear for his many ideas and busy little mind, who knows.
Anyway, my next encounter with Jeremiah was most amusing and in a funny way satisfying for me because around the school are posters reminding the children to be fair, show respect etc and I thought isn't that lovely, the teachers would be so proud of this little guy talking to me like that as it shows their lessons have made a difference to his life.
One afternoon as we arrived at work Jeremiah was at the back of the school again and came over to us and quizzed us out. I thought what a funny little guy, I will play along. He asked me who I was and I answered that I was the cleaner. He replied "No you aren't Mr Walsh is the cleaner" So I explained the difference between Mr Walsh, the maintenance man, and our jobs as cleaners. He was happy with that. His next question, after introducing himself. What are your names? I thought to myself I bet his Dad is a security man, hahaha. I told him my name was Linda. You could see mind ticking over, he wasn't satisfied with that answer, so he asked again. "If you were a teacher what would I have to call you?". I thought for a minute and asked him why and he told me that they have to call the teachers Mr or Mrs because that means they respect them and he should call me the same as them. So I told him my surname and he was much happier. He watched me for a while longer, just to check up on me and make sure I really was a cleaner and talked a bit more before he went home for dinner.
I was most amused and when I went inside I spoke to the head mistress about him and how cute he was. I got from her attitude that he was a bit of a different child. I thought , hmm poor little guy. She told me that he should not have been hanging around school grounds, but I already knew that anyway.
Next time I saw Jeremiah, was again when he should not have been there outside school hours. He followed me around and talked and watched everything I was doing for a while asking me heaps of questions. I said to him "Jeremiah I don't think you are supposed to be here after school finishes" He looked at me with those big eyes of his, sadly, shuffled his feet and looked down at them and said," Oh...I know". He wandered away sadly. I felt mean because he looked so down hearted and had been previously having a great time talking to me. Then I didn't see him again for quite a few months.
He was there on Friday afternoon though. All this week there have been teacher/ parent interviews held. He proudly ran up to me and told me he was there because his Dad was having a meeting with his teacher, probably remembering that I had questioned him before.
Funny little guy.
He checked out what I was doing and had to try out my mop bucket. Positioning himself carefully with a foot on each side of the mop bucket , as he had seen me do and testing out just exactly how it all worked. I told him to be careful not to tip the bucket over and he said "No I won't". Then announced to me, "Aw.... so that is to squeeze the juice out of the mop" haha. So cute.
He then proceeded to tell me about Pippy Long Stocking, (a character in a children's book).
Pippy Long Stocking tied scrubbing brushes onto her feet and skated up and down on the dirty floor she was told to clean. He thought that I should wash the floor that way as it would be much faster than doing it just with my mop. Ha ha ha. Love it. Probably would have been fun too and I am sure he would have liked to help me. Maybe not with my poor old legs.
He followed me around again talking for a while until his Dad called him, and off he went happily, saying goodbye politely to let me know he was going with his Dad now.
I though what a great little boy, so open and honest and polite. I could see however that he was an original thinker and that such people can be like square pegs in round holes. Yes I know that such people have to learn to toe the line but sometimes they have to be pounded to fit into that round hole. The sharp edges ground off. Too hard and they liquefy, running through the hole and dropping to the bottom of the bucket. A conversation later when I was telling a teacher about my encounter confirmed my thoughts. She said he absconds from school and I got the impression, (though she of course didn't or couldn't say so in so many words,) that they did not approve his mother's style of parenting.
Little boys like him have a strange place in our society. Are they really original thinkers or does their mind run away with them and miss the lessons they need to learn to get along with others and be a part of our society. What as a society are we missing trying to change and contain minds like Jeremiah's?
Sad isn't it.
Will his dark skin and big eyes stand him in good stead or when his male hormones kick in, will they make him another kid lost.
But.... what a beautiful little boy at this time of his life, full of inventions, wonder, honesty and open goodness.
I dunno, maybe I am looking at this from the wrong angle.
Love Linda.


Winterwood said...

awww... such a sad story really about the littel ones that get lost between the cracks of our system... in ed and then in society itself! I taught many of these types of kids when I was still teaching! Bless him and thanks for telling us this story Linda.

Josie said...

This story really touched my heart. Such a beautiful little boy, bright, inquisitive, and wanting for companionship and conversation. That tells me he probably doesn't have many friends among his peers, and it sounds like the teachers are already down on him... a stigma that tends to pass from grade to grade. I join you in wishing this little fellow well. I hope he finds a way to preseve his uniqueness in a world where fitting-in seems all important! The innocence of his friendship with you makes this a lovely gift and memory indeed!

Linda May said...

Spot on Josie.
Krissie, I knew there were some educators amongst my blog friends that would know about this type of kid eh.

Merle said...

Dear Linda ~~ Great post about a dear
little boy named Jeremiah. I hope he does well in his life after a doubtful school life. Nice of you to
befriend him.
Thanks for your good luck wishes for my laser treatment on my kidney stone.
Glad you liked the family pics and I
think they are all very special.
Take care my friend, Love, Merle.

Anonymous said...

I was a single mother for years and no matter what I did, people thought I was 'second class.' I also had a bright, inquisitive little girl who eventually became an artist.

I predict great things for Jeremiah. He obviously has an original mind and soul. Thank God for folks like you, Linda, who will engage him and simply accept him for who he is! Amy

Meryl said...

Hi Linda. Great post and so pertinent. There are so many Jeremiahs - square pegs made to fit in round holes. And, you are absolutely right that if we try too hard, they lose who they are. These are the creative minds who discover Google and Facebooks and Apple and Gravity. Einstein was one of these kids.
Not all "different" kids are gifted, but we as parents and educators must help them learn, express themselves, and be accepted for who they are.

I loved this post and would love to take it further. I think my next post will be how to help kids deal with "no"and "wrong answers". After that I will maybe I'll more directly address the square peg-round hole. Thank you for inviting me to comment. This was a provocative, important topic and i will be back!