Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Of Motherhood and The Karate Kid

I majored in Education at Calvin when I was there.  The first education course you take, EDUC 301-303, was rumored to be the course where "they weed you out."  Always the positive thinker, I spent most of my time in that class waiting for someone to pick me up by a hook or something and place me somewhere else.

I made it through the class, and even earned a grade I was not used to seeing during my school years.  However, what haunts me to this day was a lesson I learned while taking the class.  I think it was probably one of the worst lesson I learned, and it's one that I don't accept well even today.

The teacher assigned us a section of a chapter we were studying to present to the rest of the class.  We were to give a short lecture on the section we were assigned, plan a couple of activities to reinforce the concepts introduced (as well as show our mastery in doing things like cooperative learning, etc.), and have some type of visual aide to help with the lesson.

I sat in class the day of my presentation ready to go.  I think it's important at this point to understand that not only did I have all the requirements, I was also going to show a clip from The Karate Kid - because there is so much to learn from the climatic "put him in a body bag!" scene.

Everything was going well until the girl before me got up and started giving my presentation.  And then things got worse when I looked at my assignment and saw that I had read it wrong.  I was supposed to prepare different pages. 

 Here's what I do in these situations - because they happen a lot - I cry.  I start to cry and I get excused from class.  It happened in 5th grade once when I was overwhelmed with all the work I had to do.  I cried, and the teacher excused me from class.  I got to go to the bathroom and hang out with a friend for a bit.  I got out of an afternoon of 8th grade English doing the same thing.  Don't get me wrong, the tears are genuine.  It's just a bonus that I happen to get to leave when they start rolling. 

So I started to cry.  Mostly because I didn't know if I was going to be able to show my Karate Kid clip, but I was stressed out too.  At a break in the class, my professor took me into the bathroom (See?  Things are going as planned), walked me to the sink and said, "Splash some water on your face and calm down."

I didn't like where this was going.

She put her hands on my shoulders and said, "This sort of thing is going to happen to you all the time when you're a teacher, and you're just going to have to roll with it."

So...what you're telling me is I need to improvise?  I don't like that word.  At all.

Then she said this, "It's not what happens to you, Callie.  It's how you handle what happens to you."

I just nodded but what I wanted to say was, "How 'bout YOU handle what happens to me, seeing as you're the teacher and all, and tell me I don't have to re-do this assignment?" 

She told me I had a day to prepare the correct lesson and then left the bathroom. 

Thirteen years later that story makes me equally angry and thankful at the same time.  I really wanted her to tell me that what I did was enough and that she would just let this one pass.  But she treated me like a capable student instead.  I don't know if she thought I could fix this problem or not, but it wasn't for her to decide that. 

And of course she was right, but not just in regards to this sort of thing happening in teaching.  This lesson  holds true in motherhood, too.  Particularly the last 8 days as the four of us have been fighting the Worst Flu Known To Man (that's the scientific name for it).  "It's not what happens to you, it's how you handle what happens to you."  So here's how it was handled:

  • It started with Harper.  We were in Raleigh over the weekend, and in the middle of the night she threw up three times.  The rest of our time there, she wasn't acting terribly sick, but nothing was staying in, if you know what I mean.  Harper was easy.  She pretty much sleeps it off. I'm thankful for that.
  • I got it next.  I don't handle throwing up.  I deny it's going to happen until the very last second.  This strategy proved to work well for most of my life, however, I did learn that it isn't the one to implement when you're driving on 270 and have to pull over three lanes of traffic IMMEDIATELY to get to the side of the road.  But I like drama.  So if I'm going to throw up, why not put on a show for the greater Washington DC area?
  • Then it was Jesse's turn.  You wouldn't even know he was sick.  He's so polite about it.  I think it helps to be rational in these sorts of situations.

  • Then we have this girl.  Apparently, when you turn 4, you also turn everything into a competition.  So on Wednesday night Hadley is throwing up like a champ and says, "I think it's always going to be like this."  I tell her that it won't, and that Harper got it a few days ago but she is much better now and that she will be better soon, too.  Hadley says, "So I got this last and Harper got it first?  That means Harper wins."  And because I don't want to disappoint her I say, "Well, you threw up more so you've got that."  That seemed to make her feel better.

I gave the correct presentation the next day in my class, and I think I did alright.  I'm not kidding, though, when I say this was one of the worst lessons I have learned.  I'm a hot mess when things don't go the way I planned them.  And while it would behoove everyone if I just accepted the fact that I'll be in these sorts of situations for the rest of my life, I don't believe I will ever come to terms with this fact. 

Then again, things didn't go the way Daniel LaRusso planned either, and look what he was able to do:


Karen said...

"So if I'm going to throw up, why not put on a show for the greater Washington DC area?"

You crack me up, girl.

chicagosw said...

This is great! And so true at the same time. Just like when I was on my way to MY doctor's appointment and got a call from Joseph's school saying, "He's fine and he's breathing..." WHAT?!?!? After flying over to his school because of a piece of cereal bar stuck in his throat which he eventually swallowed on his own, after a ride in an ambulance to Northwestern. It wasn't planned but I had to suck it up and not cry and be a grown up so he would know he would be fine. No one prepares you for this stuff but I appreciate you writing about it. You are the best!

Kellee said...

That picture of Hadley is incredible.

Ali said...

i really love this post, callie. i tell my son all. the. time, "we're all going to make mistakes. what matters is how you handle it."

maybe he's YOUR son. ?!

embroadway said...

Love this post Callie! So true, everything is a competition! Thanks again for making me laugh. Hope everyone is feeling better.

ThaiHoa said...

LOL. Love the Karate Kid clip. I hope you all are feeling better now. I hope you enjoyed Raleigh! I love living here! My baby is sick too by the way...guess it was around Raleigh, sorry.