Friday, April 11, 2008

Time Waits for No One

Sebastian is on his own schedule. He lives two blocks from the school, but can never seem to make it on time. Sometimes he's five minutes late, sometimes ten. Sometimes he's twenty minutes late, and sometimes thirty. I've called his house a few times, and his mom says this will change. Somehow it never does.

Sometimes he's late because it's raining. After all, how can you get anywhere on time in the rain? Sometimes he's late because it isn't raining. It's hard to find those trailers when it isn't raining. There's no water dripping off them, and there aren't any puddles to navigate. Or sometimes it's cold and who can move quickly in the cold?

Strangely, all my other students make it on time. I myself am there an hour before this class even begins, so it's hard for me to be as sympathetic as I should. In fact, yesterday, when Sebastian arrived 40 minutes late, I wasn't sympathetic at all. I was helping another kid, and Sebastian helpfully brought over the attendance sheet so I could mark him present.

"You're absent," I told him, and sent the sheet to the attendance office as a monument to the event.

This sparked a vehement protest on Sebastian's part. Then I was suddenly inspired. In our school, kids who come late are issued passes with their ID pictures and numbers. These passes are generally a waste of paper, and I generally toss them into the wastepaper basket. But a lot of kids just forget them entirely and come to the trailers directly.

"I'm sorry, Sebastian," I said, "but I can't admit you without a late pass."

After that, he was off. And with just two minutes left in the period, I got a call from the attendance office. Apparently Sebastian, tapping into his creative side, asked the ladies in the office if they would mark him present, as his teacher had mistakenly marked him absent.

"He's not here," I told them.

It's too bad a resourceful, quick-thinking kid like this can't direct his energies toward getting out of bed on time. I may not be as imaginative as Sebastian, but if he wants to pass my class, I really can't come up with an alternative.
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