12 December 2009


Tutor Tales, Volume 10

There haven't been any Doctor Nemesis stories in a while because he has been incorrigible and I've just been angry at him all the time. Last week, I finally broke through to what was wrong--and it was nothing I had imagined at all. While rummaging about in his school bag, I came across one, and then two, and finally three little white tablets, each sealed up in its own plastic pack.

I looked up just in time to keep him from carving his name into one of the centre tables (again) and then roared: "You've been off your meds all this time?!!?"

Then I frisked him and found a fourth little white tablet in one of his trouser pockets.

It explained absolutely everything.

I will spare you the gory details.

Now, I'm no fan of medicating little boys just so they conform to Prussian-style school systems, but as a minor part of the system, I have to work for the good from within. And right now I can think of no other alternative . . . save putting the poor lad in military school. (I'm not very creative.)

After Doctor Nemesis finally forgave me for telling his mother about the pills ("Why did you tell my mom? I thought you were my friend!"), were were able to get back to studying without anyone getting hurt. (You think I jest, don't you? That is because you've never seen me do a flying tackle! But never mind that now . . .)

Yesterday was all right. He was able to concentrate on his homework exercise, to get all of the answers right the first time, and to sucker me into playing his latest mind game. Instead of writing his answers down on the homework sheet or saying them aloud when I asked him for them, he traced them in the air with his finger. So I had to make out whatever he was outlining and do the arithmetic in my head (as he was doing) to make sure they were the correct answers. Once or twice, I offered some constructive criticism along the lines of, "That's the sloppiest 7 I've ever seen!" All the while, I was thinking, Damn! Don't ever let any of my boy's regular teachers tell me he isn't intelligent!

The second part of the mind game involved us writing the answers together. He'd hold on to the pencil and I'd hold on to his hand, and it would be like the ouija board in reverse. Yet I was never writing the numbers for him, just keeping him from writing them too big or in the wrong places. You know, there's something so irresistible about a twelve-year-old boy who says, "I don't want to do it if you don't hold my hand." (Oh, I am such a sucker.)

After our hour together, I took him down in the lift to the lobby, where his family driver was waiting. He was looking at his reflection in the big mirror, when he suddenly spit at it.

"What do you think you're doing?" I shrieked. "Wipe that up!"

"No way!" he said, grinning brightly, meaning no malice, just happy to be alive and to be a boy.

Sighing, I acted upon the first idea which occurred to me: I grabbed him by his armpits, hoisted him up against the mirror, and used the shirt on his back to wipe up all the saliva.

Now, I happen to lack significant upper body strength, and Doctor Nemesis is puberty-sized, so my movements weren't as controlled as I would have liked. Instead of making smooth wiping motions from side to side, I was jerkily shoving him up and down. His smile managed to grow even wider, and he held on as if it were the latest carnival ride.

Then the lift stopped so that someone else could get on. As soon as the doors opened, Doctor Nemesis started squealing at the top of his lungs: "Child abuse! Child abuse!"

To the new passenger's eternal credit, he gave us a faint smile and minded his own business.

Now that I look back at it, I realise I should have just yanked his shirt up over his head and used it like a regular rag. That would have been less fun, though . . . for both of us.


dylan said...

And I thought I had fun inventing names for the roman-à-clef aspects of blogging! Doctor Nemesis!

How does one become a doctor at twelve?

And yes, we smile broadly at your description of how you wiped away the spit.

Enbrethiliel said...


It's just a name inspired by the 1980s cartoon G.I. Joe, I'm afraid! (The character was Doctor Mindbender.)

Doctor Nemesis has a brother named Doctor Decimator. I should write about him more often . . .