Monday, December 19, 2016

Widdershins

We have a student who is amazingly talented, intelligent and his own worst enemy. He is belligerent, and during a recent exercise, gave an example so heinous, I asked him to retract his statement. He wouldn't, so I moved on immediately trying to minimize the attention.

His fellow students, over the years, have adjusted to him--they accept him, tolerate him, and even care for him. I'm just thankful for all the good he contributes, thankful his contrariness is minimal, and most of all thankful that everyday after school, he goes home to someone else.

Last quarter, he sat in our classroom at the end of the term and made up all the work in one afternoon. Yes, it was late, and yes he was only given half credit, but he eeked it out and earned a passing grade. This quarter, he wasn't as motivated, and a week after the school deadline had passed for any late work, he made the long walk to my desk after the last, last, class.

"Is there anything I can do to make up my grade?" he asked.

"No. The deadline was last week." My compassion was as sincere as my gratitude for hard deadlines.

"Okay."

His acceptance was a relief.

In the meantime, his mother had called the counselor, and the counselor had sent a plea to the young man's teachers. "Please be merciful."

Widdershins. An old German word (1500s) meaning contrary, counter clockwise. Thinking differently than what may first appear, as the only way.

True mercy for this young man is contrary to what the counselor has asked for. In this case mercy equals accountability; it is more merciful to require accountability for this young man than to let him slide further into the rut he has so deftly dug for himself.

In the next three years, Tony and I will be paying for Physician's Assistant schooling for our daughter. The tab will be high, sacrifices are required, but most of all we are grateful we can do it.

My sister recently asked how we can justify spending so much money for one child's education and not for the others. How are we going to keep it fair among four children?

Fair and equal doesn't mean the same, I explained. Fair is addressing needs when they are needed, and fortunately all needs will not cost as much as PA school. If as parents, we felt our monetary disbursement had to be equal among children, we'd be choking to survive, or worse, we would refuse to help because we couldn't keep it equal.

Fortunately, we think otherwise.

Widdershins.