Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ignorance was Bliss?

A glimpse of the sun from the weekend...something I probably won't see much of until next weekend...

When Curtis and I purchased a car this past summer, we had no idea all the bells and whistles we would stumble upon along the way. Given that this vehicle is ten years younger than either of our former vehicles (which were "well used" when we acquired them), we have been quite surprised on numerous occasions about what our lovely car can do. The latest discovery? Yet another warning light, this one telling us that "our tire pressure has lessened".

When this light went on Friday night, I feverishly pulled out the car manual to search out what this orange exclamation mark surrounded by an orange ring meant. The last time I searched out the manual, it was for a blue light that signals when the car has not yet been sufficiently heated up. (This light is my husband's dream. As someone who warms up a vehicle with the utmost patience and diligence even when it's -10 outside, he thinks this light represents perfect communication between the driver and the vehicle.) This time I found the information I was looking for pretty quickly, and was relieved to find out that the overly anxious looking warning light did not mean that the car would soon explode.

As I drove to work this morning, still gazing at the warning light, I found myself thinking that perhaps I would benefit from warning lights in other areas of my life. For example, I would love to have a light that pops on as I drive home in the evening, warning me that I had better stop at the grocery store, because I have no food of any substance in my fridge, and pie will not suffice as dinner. Another helpful warning? A light that turns on before I run out of clean socks and underwear, or spoons. It would also have been very nice to have a warning that the snow plow would be constantly blowing snow against my first story window throughout my morning classes, interrupting productivity. Perhaps the most helpful light would be one embedded in my forehead that turns on to warn my students when I've had little sleep in two days because my husband has caught an awful cold (from the children he is treating on a daily basis) that has caused him to cough all night long.

Despite these morning daydreams that transpired on a dark drive to school, I think not knowing what is coming can also be a good thing. If I had known that I would have to stay an hour after practice to wait for parents to pick up their children last night, I might have lost it. If I am destined to lose every game in our volleyball tournament this afternoon--much like what happened a couple weeks ago--I'd prefer it to be a surprise. The reality, fortunately or unfortunately, is that results are typically preceded with warnings. Mediocre, unfocused practicing leads to similar play in games. I may have been shocked to lose all of our games, but losing most of them wasn't much of a surprise.

I am often chastised by parents for not giving them enough warning--about grades, about behavior, about anything. When a grade turns out to be an "F", or behavior requires a detention, the parents want to know why no one told them THIS was the direction things were headed. While the occasional surprise could have used a bit more of a warning, typically the signs are already there: the grades are online, the disrespect happens at home, the trends have only continued from years past.

Most of the time, the light has been on, and the driver has been ignoring it.

I don't have a flat tire--yet--and I'm hoping to deal with the pressure issue in the next few days. But if I end up with a flat tire because I have not addressed a light that has been glaring me in the eye for the last three days, as much as I'd like to blame the tire manufacturers, the winter pot holes in the road, or the frigid temperatures, I've got no one to blame but myself.

(If only my students and their parents felt the same way...)


  1. This happened to me last week but Matt's fancy car goes into detail with bells, whistles, lights, and, yes, even diagrams, all lit on a screen.

    It told me that all four tiles were "dangerously low".

    I, of course, had just hit the NJ Turnpike and turning around was not an option, as the traffic on the other side of the road heading into the Holland Tunnel was ferocious.

    Long story short, turns out this happens all the time when the temperature drops and it's really "no big deal".


    I commend you for not being me, who always has a giant warning light burning in the back of my mind but most often fails to recognize its forewarning. You're approach is much more sane: instead of always freaking out about everything like I do, you seem to say "Yeah, I know, I'll deal with it. So be it.".

    You are so my hero.

  2. Love this post and completely agree. You always draw such great analogies from your life. There are a lot of things you can't predict, and it really is better that way. But there is a lot of "writing on the wall" if we choose not to be oblivious then look to blame someone else, we can deal with things as they come along in a better way. Like today...I'm taking all four boys to the dentist. I can clearly see the warning lights flashing, the rough roads ahead sign. But I'm gearing up and hoping for the best=)