I was halfway through the English lesson when the drugs started to kick in. 1 Earlier in the day I had spoken to this particular child when he was fidgety, mischievous and particularly defiant. 2 This was behaviour that I had come to recognise over the first term or so, behaviour that I found both intensely disruptive to the ‘learning environment’ and that had come to define him as a person. He was naughty, but he was lively, and cheeky and funny as well. When I spoke to him, asking about the weekend and looking for clues to see if anything had happened at home, I talked to him about his behaviour and what I expected and what was appropriate. His reply was, ‘I can’t help it, my pills haven’t kicked in yet.’ These pills were Ritalin. They were prescribed by a child psychiatrist who was gossiped about by teachers as giving out Ritalin ‘like M&Ms’. Another child in the class, who was not on them at the time, said his mum called them his ‘naughty pills’. To return to the child in question: he had been getting used to the ‘small’ original dosage, so his dose had been increased. He was right – for some reason, they had taken a while to kick in. He was a nightmare in Mathematics, the first lesson, and no one around him got much learning done. But halfway through English, he had started to mellow and calm down. By lunch time, he was very calm – docile is more accurate. The child I was beginning to know and like (despite his behaviour) was disappearing. In his place was a different child. How he felt about this was very hard to tell: he did not smile as easily as he used to, but he was also less angry and upset, and did not act so frustrated with his difficulties in learning. From my point of view, he was definitely easier to have in the classroom. I sighed with relief and felt ashamed at my relief. The boy was 6 years old.