To be fair, it wasn’t the whole class or even half the class. In fact, in reality, it was just one boy, one boy who went by the name of Leyton Baxter. If there ever was a more working-class name out there, she’d never heard it. Leyton wasn’t a nasty boy, he wasn’t a hitter or a biter, and he certainly wasn’t a fighter. Nor was he fidgety or even easily distracted. What’s more, he did not pick his nose or play with his shoes during class, and he could never be accused of being disinterested in the lessons. Nor could it be said that Leyton didn’t put his hand up to contribute during class discussions, quite the opposite in fact. And they’re in a fucking nutshell lay the problem!
Leyton never stopped putting his hand up. Then, after he’d put his hand up to speak, did he wait to be asked before sharing his sparkling insight and knowledge, did he fuck! The second that podgy, little pasty-white hand shot up, he called out, every single bloody time without fail. Leyton was one of those kids who had something to say about everything.
If it was Maths, he knew the answer, if it was Geography he’d been there, if it was Literacy he’d read the book and knew the ending. Invariable, his responses were wrong, wildly off-topic, and sometimes incomprehensible. But this did not deter him in the slightest, Whatever the topic. Whatever the question, that boy’s hand went up like a rocket.
The Mother could have asked the class to explain Jeremy Bethnam’s philosophy on punishment, and Leyton would have had a good go at answering. The ironic thing was had she not been so irritated by his relentless calling out, she might actually have warmed to him. After all, you had to admire his enthusiasm. In later life, she was sure it would serve him well, but not today. Today in a hot, stuffy, fart-filled classroom, he just perpetually annoyed her.
“I’ve done that, I’ve been there, that’s so easy for me I knew that already, I learned it last year, I have a better idea, it’s my turn now. That’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy.”
It never bloody stopped. Even when he wasn’t coming out with some load of old nonsense, he was trying to catch the Mother’s eye. Several times she tried moving him to different places on the carpet, but it made no difference. He was like the bloody Mona Lisa, wherever she put him, he was still somehow in her gaze.
On this particular afternoon, The Mother was teaching the children about the dinosaurs. She thought it would be easy, what five years old wasn’t interested in dinosaurs? It was fun to begin with. All the children were totally engaged, which she’d expected. Not because she was a particularly good teacher but because like most kids, they just loved dinosaurs.
Plus these particular children also loved running around attacking each other, roaring and pretending to eat each other. Learning about carnivorous beasts was just a natural extension of this. The Mother was convinced, even with Leyton there it would be an easy afternoon, but she was wrong, very very wrong.
No sooner had the Mother started the lesson, than Leyton started to shout out. She managed to ignore him for about four minutes, maybe five but definitely no longer
She’d just begun to explain that the dinosaurs were alive during the Jurassic period when Leyton’s amazing commentary began. This time he didn’t even bother putting his hand up, just shouted out
“I’ve been there,”
“What?” The Mother said so loudly she actually made a couple of children who weren’t paying attention, jump out of the space on the carpet.
“No, you haven’t, Leyton.” She said trying to continue. But he wasn’t going to give up that easily
“I have, I’ve been there with my dad,” he insisted.
“Where Leyton, where exactly did you go with your dad?” She demanded
“To that place, you said you know the Jurassic place. I saw a ptertayly and a T- rex and one of them ones with the triangles on their back. The Mother and Leyton began to argue and this went on for several minutes.
During this time, the Mother discovered the only thing the children liked more than dinosaurs. This was a heated argument between a teacher and a child. Suddenly every child was sitting upright and listening. Velcro shoes lay still, Ahmed stopped picking his scabby knee, and inexplicably no one wanted to play with Charonday’s hair anymore, well that was a first.