“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.
I stood in the shower with water streaming over my suds-filled hair when the garbage cans that line our home’s outside wall pinged and rattled. The noise sounded like a clattering tambourine and lasted a few seconds. I thought a bold creature was rummaging through our trash–in daylight. With my fist, I banged on the wall and shouted, “Get out of those cans.”
The clatter stopped. My stern command had sent the creature fleeing.
A few minutes later, equipped with rubber gloves, I checked the cans. I was prepared to pick up strewn trash and look for signs of the scavenger. Bear? Cat? Skunk?
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”
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?