Twenty years ago, before I had children of my own, I taught seventh-grade language arts. I became a decent teacher, but my first year, I was a disorganized mess. At one point, I had my students working on a group project. Each group was assigned a short story to read and present to the class. The presentation was supposed to include a dramatic scene from the story.
One of my groups painted a brick wall on butcher paper and taped the paper over a book shelf to be used as their backdrop. In the final moments of their scene, one student, Heather, was supposed to punch a hole in the fake brick wall.
The scene went well, but when Heather threw her punch, she inadvertently landed her fist on the lip of one of the shelves. Instead of punching through the paper, she ran her hand into wood.
She was momentarily stunned. Obviously hitting wood hurts. She asked to go to go to the nurse. “Shake it off,” I said. “You’ll be fine.”
The next day Heather arrived at school with a cast on her arm. The poor girl broke her wrist.
I was reminded of this story yesterday when I took my youngest daughter to our pediatrician. “She has a cough,” I explained.
“How long has this been going on?” Doctor Dave asked.
I counted days in my head. “It started when we got our new puppy. I’m worried she might be allergic to him. She’s been coughing for about three weeks.”
Our doctor listened here and there with his stethoscope.
“She has walking pneumonia,” he said.
Initially I was so relieved. “So Ella isn’t coughing because of the puppy.”
“No,” Doctor Dave said. “She is coughing because of the pneumonia.”
“So, I guess she’s probably not just gonna shake that off?”