12:20 - Gathering at door slowly emerges. Boolani, in bouncer mode, breaks it up.
12:21 - Total chaos. Boolani hassles a few selected students who at times look right through him as they are completely consumed by lunch. R, a student with a distinctive walk, shamelessly hassles Boolani, repeating the teacher’s last name with reckless abandon.
He forces his perfectly done independent practice work into my sphere of vision, and I glance at it passively, glancing over his gorgeous work and his perfect answers, and quickly raise my head to meet his eyes to let him know that I am proud of him. But that fleeting moment is quickly ended by several other students with similar intentions, and as R begins to tell me about why he changed the last name on his paper today, I am already lost.
He says, “Did you notice Boolani? I don’t want that name on my work anymore. When I am famous, I don’t want anyone to think that my dad’s name has anything to do with my success. He doesn’t deserve it. He doesn’t deserve it cuz of the way he treats us. When I’m famous Boolani, he can’t have any of my credit.”
I uh-huh him off, deep in the beehive. But I heard him. And I felt for him. In my brain I thanked him for sharing that with me, and I talked to him about it for hours. I thanked him for shoving that piece of perfect work into the storm so that I could see how well he understands what I’ve taught him.
But instead I seemed distracted and unwilling to take just one moment. Hell, that was after 4 hours of teaching. I was fucking fried, and hungry to sit down. Do you know how many kids I must of pulled a R. on that day? I’m but one man. But still I feel unexcused. I’m sorry for not listening.