Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A study in metamorphosis

Misha was different at the beginning of the school year. He hugged and kissed me. He repeated everything I said in English, whether it was a part of the lesson or not. He dressed up in his Superman costume, especially for me. When I was getting ready to go, he would put on my coat and hat and run around while I chased him.


The farewell to the school year went a little differently. For the last few weeks, he had not come to class. He cried when pressured. Sometimes he came into the room and would watch with a scowl. Just before I left, he would beg for candy.

This time, he was slumped in a chair watching tv. He wouldn’t respond to my questions. For a few seconds his eyes became bright long enough to say, “Give me a piece of gum!” I was dismayed. “Misha, why don’t you want to do English? Do you get tired?” That was a mistake, because it prompted his next ingenious response: “The doctor said I shouldn’t.” “If you’re too sick to do English, then you shouldn’t be watching television. And you shouldn’t eat candy,” I said, not willing to baby him.

Nothing helped.

“So that’s it? You’re not going to come to class? Will you come next year?”

A nod. “Give me a piece of gum.”

“No.”

“But you promised!”

“I didn’t promise. And you didn’t earn it, anyway.”

“You promised! I don’t want to ever see you again!”

What’s the problem? Institutionalization? Adolescence? Attachment disorder? Adoption anxiety?

Outside, I found Lolita, a girl from Misha’s group. “Let’s have English class!” she said. “Guess what, I found my textbook! It was in the playroom, underneath everything.”

“Great.”

We went inside to have a lesson. In the background, an old man began to express his views to a colleague. “If you ask any American nowadays, they will say that the U.S. won WWII….”

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