Friday, May 16, 2008

Guarding My Heart

I'm keep space, physical space between me and Gary. It is easy to do. He and Brian enjoy playing the same games. Though there is supposed to be a time limit on gaming they keep forgetting. Roland calls them away. They find something else to do, and then they drift back again. I have papers to grade. Next week is the last week of the term and I allow students to opt out of the final. They will only opt out if they know what their grade is, so I simply must, MUST get through this pile of papers.

So I am busy, and he is happy. Besides, I tell myself, he will still be trying to impress me, trying to figure out what I want him to be. I should let him relax a bit more, feel at home here, so that I can get to know the real him.

And that is all true.

But it is also true that I am afraid. Not terrified, not quaking with anxiety, but afraid. I don't want to risk it. I want guarantees before I invest any emotion. I know I won't get them, but I want them. I ask Brian, Andrew, and Evan for their impressions. I ask the social worker. I read reports, evaluations. It is a wall of information between us.

I know it is time to step past all that, to actually have a conversation with him.

Yep, I have not really had a conversation with him. I have asked him his favorite color, what he likes to eat, whether he wants to come back. I have offered him food, assured him that he can eat all he likes, explained a few rules to him. I have listened to the sounds of him talking and laughing with Evan. I do not hear the words, but I hear the instant bond of boys who have shared certain sorts of tragedy, who know the other understands.

But that is all.

It is time. It is time to take the risk, to reach out, to get to know him. No more excuses. My mind tells me that I should, that it is time, that it is the right thing to do.

But I am afraid. I don't want to get hurt. It is more difficult this time.

How much more difficult must it be for him.

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