Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Putting Digits In Places They Shouldn't Be
by Teresa Oefinger
Had a student today who got his finger stuck inside a test tube. It was really quite stuck. I knew something was up when I saw about 12 different 12-year-old shoulders around the room shaking as they heroically tried to conceal their laughter. This young man's finger continued to get whiter and whiter right before my eyes.
Remaining calm, I tried to dislodge the tube. Nothing. I suggested he carefully rotate it. It wouldn't budge. He tried soap and cold water. Still stuck. Meanwhile chaos began breaking out in my class, as my lesson became completely derailed. Finally, I sent this wily young man to the office. Our secretaries are miracle workers raising six kids between the two of them. With them in charge, I was completely confident all would be OK.
Forgetting about the lesson du jour, I masterfully got the students back in some degree of order by sharing my own story of getting my knee stuck between the rails of a balcony. Same kind of curiosity; I remembered wondering at the time how far I could thrust my knee between the rails. Inch by inch, I kept pushing and before I knew it, my knee was stuck and swelling right before my eyes and in front of lots of amused strangers at a popular Las Vegas hotel!
Many of the students listening to my story of humiliation shot up their hands, eager to tell their own stories of heads, arms, toes and fingers stuck in places they shouldn't be. The laughter was refreshing while we waited for finger tube boy to return. We returned to the science lesson on "total internal reflection," careful now to use the equipment properly.
Shortly after returning to the lesson, the young man reemerged, grinning ear to ear, test tube intact and finger returning to a lovely shade of pink.
I just couldn't get mad at this kid. He's only twelve after all. I too got my knee unstuck, but not without a tremendous amount of embarrassment and some degree of strategy. The excuse for me however, was not youth but sheer stupidity. I was, after all, 51 years old when this happened.
Teresa Oefinger is a mother, science teacher, life coach, and writer of articles on Parenting Teens for The Ark in Tiburon, Ca. She lives in Petaluma, CA, with her husband of 27 years.
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