I wonder how sad my cat is at having me as its new owner. He stares at me as I tap away at my phone. He stares at me with genuine concern for my well-being – according to my predilection for anthropomorphizing cats and endowing them with masses of empathy (they wish I’d just feed them).

I’m not really a cat person. There are days when I’m entirely convinced that I am not a person.

You see, I was teaching this week: frantically cobbling together evidence of attainment; ticking pages to show that I’d looked at pages; tidying wall display to show that I have tidy wall display; signing reading records to show that I check reading records; emailing parents to demonstrate that I close the triangle between student, teacher and parent – when I set eyes upon something.

I was putting reports into a system (any system, I don’t know anymore) when I felt my hackles rise. They rose not from alarm (I didn’t know that hackles, like me, could also differentiate). They simply rose like the open stare of a blankly curious cat.

I was being looked at by a child. One of my students. Just looked at. The grid of a spreadsheet was still on my retina as I returned the gaze.

I didn’t say anything and nor did he.

I only wondered: which one of us had just been pulled from The Cave?


Was it something I said?

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