“Has anyone ever turned in a paper that you considered too long?” a student asked when I mentioned an approximate page length for an assignment.
Once, I asked students to define a term from their major area of study. Write two or three pages explaining the term to someone who’s not in your major, I said.
A zealous physics student emailed me a detailed, fourteen-page discourse on time travel. I opened the file, scrolled through the fourteen pages, and postponed grading the paper.
I did not put reading the paper on hold because its length discouraged me. I put the paper on hold because its promise engaged my curiosity. In the introduction, the student declared that time travel is currently possible. I was excited to learn about the possibilities. I saved his pages for last, so I’d have reading to anticipate. (I hear you. You aren’t the first. Others have called me gullible.)
The idea of time travel fascinates me. I have read A Wrinkle in Time, The Time Machine, and Danny Dunn Time Traveler more than once. I watched all the Back to the Future movies. More than once.
Please don’t share this confession with anyone who will agree with me, but sometimes I find myself asking, “What kind of idiot am I?”
This morning, I pulled a pair of sunglasses from the bottom of my book bag and realized that for the second time this year, my carelessness in stowing them had resulted in the costly, polarized lenses getting scratched.
I rummaged in the bag until I found the special square cloth the optometrist office provided with the glasses. I polished the lenses with intensity. I peered through them. The special cloth had not wiped away the scratches. I was forced to conclude that, yet again, the scratch is in the center of my field of vision.
Apparently, I am the kind of idiot who will make the same mistake two times in a row even though I have repeatedly determined not to.
I’d like to share a little of the blame with the companies make sunglasses. Why don’t they make scratch resistant lenses? I’m sure that with all the technology at their disposal, they could.
Speaking of blame, last week I wrote a post in which I told parents of troubled kids that they aren’t to blame for their kids’ circumstances. Some readers asked, “What helped you move past the blame?” Continue reading “How I stop blaming myself”
A few years ago, our young-adult son was fighting anxiety disorder and depression, and losing big-time. My husband Steve and I knew something was wrong. But we didn’t know about the overwhelming panic or the stifling depression our son felt.
He drank so much alcohol, so often, that we considered problem drinking his main problem, and I worried that he was driving drunk.
I asked him. He denied it. He said he’d never drive drunk, but my persistent, nagging suspicion didn’t diminish. I didn’t know what to do.
One night, I heard him drive into our driveway very late—two hours after his shift at a local restaurant ended and right after bars close.
The next morning, I called a local police station and asked to speak with an officer in the alcohol and drug addiction unit. During our conversation, I squeezed back sobs. My throat felt like it was closing up, and I could barely squeeze out words that I never, ever thought I’d say, “I’m worried that my son drives drunk. What should I do?” Continue reading “When kids break bad, or sad, who’s to blame?”
In 1982, when my husband Steve and I met, I knew we were soulmates. We liked the same outdoor activities—skiing, biking and hiking. Together, we tended a small garden and canned the produce. He worked on my car and I cooked in his kitchen. We attended the same small church and eagerly contributed to the church community. He helped with building repairs and maintenance. I taught Sunday school.
After dating just over a year, we married, bought a house, and eventually had three kids.
We’d been married awhile, maybe, a few years, when I realized our vast differences must mean that we were actually not soulmates. I worried that I had married the wrong man.
Yesterday, as I shopped for school supplies, I overheard a frustrated teacher talk loudly as she searched for a type of pencils with soft grips. She explained to the sales associate, “My students don’t hold their current pencils quite right. A soft grip might help.”
Yesterday was my daughter Cara’s 24th birthday. Currently, she’s living in Port-au-prince, Haiti and there are 1550 very long miles of earth and sea separating us. On her birthday, I wasn’t going to see her to celebrate, so I was thinking of her almost every moment of the day. The teacher’s comment made me think of her again and wonder: Had I held my daughterquite right? All those years that I had her close. Did I hold her quite right?