By Sebastian Croft
LEARNING??? No Sebastiernnnnn! Get lost! You can’t damn well make me I scathingly said!
How TO put this stupid fabric string snake in perfect sync with rusty grey holes and Donner Party tread.
You can’t TIE your own hair back yourself I matter-of-factly said, so much gel you’re pretty much Draco Malfoy, slimy Slytherin born and bred.
I’m sure that MY own mother could easily do this for me instead at home, reassuring Sir, a verbal cortisone.
But she’s not here, OWN blood, flesh, and bone.
Hardly any ties that bind, SHOELACES and friendships are notable exceptions of the Covid lockdown kind.
A graduate from Southampton Solent University (BA – Film studies) and the University of Warwick (MA – History and Film), Sebastian Croft is the leading researcher and author on representations of the USS Indianapolis in American Film and Television. Following on from his first publication “History Bites Back: Confronting the Atomic Leviathan in Jaws”, Croft is currently in the process of writing his second publication “Bomb Voyage: The USS Indianapolis in American Cinema and National Memory” which is due Autumn 2021. Croft currently works at Aylesford School and Sixth Form college in Warwickshire where he is responsible for the daily 1-1 mentoring of a Year 7 ADHD and ODD student.
I wrote “Learning to Tie My Own Shoelaces” during my time as a 1-1 TA for a vulnerable year 7 student with ADHD and ODD amidst the early 2021 lockdown. The poem’s title (itself a challenge I’d set to my student during lockdown) I felt served as an appropriate metaphor for the bond and work ethic that I managed to cultivate with my SEN student during this crazy time, this concept of two opposite strings binding together in unity. Anyone whom has worked with secondary ADHD or ODD students during lockdown can undoubtedly relate to the trials and tribulations that such a role can bring, something which I allude to at the beginning of the poem where the student is just infuriatingly disrespectful and uncooperative. However, since the January 2021 lockdown my student underwent such an inexplicably radical shift in his behaviour, mannerisms, and work ethic that I merely became a passive observer as he got on with the work set by his teachers. This, in turn, strengthened and revolutionized the bond we had initially developed previously in late 2020, causing him (I suspect) to reinterpret myself as more of an equal or guardian figure as opposed to an adversary (a common perceptive trait amongst ODD students), something which I allude to later in the poem where he has to come to terms with the fact that his mother isn’t there to mollycoddle him in school. The fact that myself and my student were able to persevere through adversity and create something extremely positive whilst the world around us seemed to be going go the dogs was a valuable life experience and achievement I’ll never forget. “Learning to Tie My Own Shoelaces” serves as a commemoration to this and a reminder that many a good thing can come through struggle.