"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6.8

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lost for words: an encounter with Tourette's Boy.

I am no longer a Yr 10 Form Tutor. Mrs. Ali has returned but I agree to stay with her for a few days so that she can settle back in with them.

("But Sir, we'd rather have you.")

Look everyone, it's Mrs. Ali!



"It's great to be back. I HAVE missed you all."


We attempt the form quiz. I don't have the courage to tell her how we've been cheating blatantly since she went on maternity leave. Strangely she found google within two minutes of no one knowing who wrote Gulliver's Travels. Funny that.

Look, just copy from Chloe will you.

"I'm not copying from her. She writes like she's got Downs Syndrome."

Talking of syndromes, I've not seen much of Ummar recently. He seems to spend a lot of time in isolation for various offences. This is the boy with Tourette's Syndrome and I really hope he isn't getting into bother for things outside his control. The last time he was in my class he was wound up by some silly and totally uncompassionate behaviour from others in the class. I've tried appealing to their better natures but that, of course, is a waste of time because, being teenagers, they don't have better natures.

Geography Pete tells me that it's a nightmare in form time if Ummar is agitated.

"I'm standing at the front trying to give out notices and Ummar's interjecting in full tourette's mode, the other kids are trying to hold it together - and failing spectacularly - and I'm thinking "What the Fuck ...?"

So it's contageous then?


How long does this have to go on before the kids just accept it as part of Ummar and stop reacting? When you can ice-skate in Hell, I guess!

In class I try to shield him from the worst.

Don't wind him up. Leave him alone.

"But he's winding us up."

Yes but he can't help it. Just ignore it and get on with your work. I am not prepared to discuss Ummar's medical condition with others in the class in front of him but someone needs to have that conversation with the rest of his class. Mental note: as Yr 9. are taught in form groups for R.S. perhaps his Form Tutor or Head of Year needs to bite the bullet on this one.

At the end of the school day I came upon Ummar standing outside Mrs. George's room. To be more precise I became aware of Ummar from some distance down the corridor.

"FUCK! ..... Sir, have you ...FUCK ...seen Mrs. George?"

No Ummar ....


......Is it important?

What with me being perceptive and all, I sense that Ummar is somewhat agitated.

"FUCK! I'm on detention Sir and she told me to .. FUCK! ... meet her here."

I think I may be in touch with my inner child because I have a strong desire to giggle. Nevertheless I remain inscrutable.

O.K ....


......she's probably on bus duty and'll be along in a minute. I think ...


............... she'll be disappointed if you've not waited so I think you should hang on. O.K?

"O.K. FUCK!"

I meander away feeling I've handled the situation pretty well.


Don't look back.


  1. Sounds like you handled it fine. Simply letting the outbursts be often calms them after a while...

  2. Poor Ummar. He must have a truly difficult life.

  3. I read this earlier but didn't have time to comment. Excellent post, funny and tender. I need to get back to following blogs!

    (I was inspired by the negative FB comment to come back, so that proves there's no such thing as bad publicity.)

  4. I do think teachers have remarkable resilience. It didn't really occur to me before, but you really do see all life don't you?

    Teenagers are vile and cruel.

  5. Poor lad. As he grows older he will learn how to surpress when it is absolutely necessary for him to do so. It is very unfortunate that Tourettes almost always manifests itself, and is most uncontrollable, at exactly the time of life that it causes the most problems for the sufferer.

  6. I do admire teachers. Your post is a necessary reminder that there are some vulnerable folk out there and that school should be a refuge from the harshness of the world. Unfortunately it is also full of teenagers, so as you note compassion may be a bit wanting.

    Poor Ummar. Still, if he has one teacher who understands him and doesn't react adversely .....

  7. Did the Facebook critic even read the blog? She seems to have completely missed the point.

  8. Have to confess I sniggered a lot ..... but then I don't have to deal with it face to face. One of these days there might be someone in acongregation who gets agitated by my sermon ramblings .... then the worship will get a lot more interesting!

  9. It's when they start screaming obscenities at you in the middle of your sermon and they don't suffer from Tourettes that is most disconcerting.