I’m writing to you from the Happiest Place on Earth, Place Where Dreams Come True, Memories To Last a Lifetime’s neighbor: the Double Ear Infection Bed of Sorrows.
You see, one of my greatest strengths is getting sick either just before or just during a vacation. Twice we’ve been in beautiful and sunny Punta Cana and twice I have been locked in a room with a fever. Family water park vacation in Wisconsin Dells? Flu. Hey, here we are in Paris! Hey, here are the chills!
I do think a part of this is that I seem to never stop working. Then, when I do let my guard down, even ever so slightly, the bugs I have willed to stay away begin to creep up.
So, two days before our trip to the Mouse’s House I was, of course, shivering with fever-chills and slowly losing my hearing to a middle ear blockage. It ’twas only one ear at the time.
The plane ride down here was easy and pain-filled as one ear opened and the other closed up with the help of some sort of demonic fire sorcery taking place in my head.
I was determined, however, to keep going. Sinus decongestant. Tylenol. Antihistamine. Moving my head at odd angles. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin this trip for my family. And I firmly and steadfastly do not like to bother others.
I Got This. No Really. It’s Fine.
I come from a long line of do-this-myself-ers. Partially it is pride, for sure. We feel good when we have accomplished something all by our lonesome. A larger part, though, is that we do not want to make anyone else bother over us. I will more often than not do whatever it is that has to be done just to avoid needing to ask someone else.
I’m often inconvenience-phobic.
I assume that asking puts people out. Annoys them. Takes them away from more important things.
Which is why for the past few days, as pressure ebbed and flowed in my ears, as pain came and went, and as Mickey sounded more and more muffled, I simply took care of things myself. More decongestant, more yawning, more tilting.
Until 12:30AM last night.
When I bolted out of bed with the feeling of explosions in my eardrums.
Now. I did still do-it-all-by-myself at first. I did fumble-tip-toe to the bathroom, got water, took more of I don’t remember what. But finally, in intense pain, I woke up my wife and we figured out how to go to emergency room.
Asking And Being Asked
What followed was a reminder that none of us are in any of this alone.
Not with a double-ear-infection at Disney World, not in our homes, not in our schools. Person after person was reassuring and helpful. From the front-desk, to our cab driver, to everyone at Celebration Hospital (yes. It is called that.).
I know this sounds like the obvious statement of the year, but:
people like to be asked.
I mean, on reflecting, I like to be asked. And when you ask someone to help, and then they do, you both feel great about it.
We each take pride in our expertise, in our ability to create or change or fix.
Now, I’m not talking about being volun-told (the identity of the educators who taught me that one will remain private) or micromanaged. Instead, I am suggesting that I, and perhaps you, can take more opportunities for learning from others and sharing in their strengths.
It is good to do things alone. Even better to do them together.
Starting the Year With Questions
For so many educators, our roles are often assessed as singular: your test scores, your lesson plans, your teacher evaluation, your classroom. While, sure, there may be a place for individual accounting of strengths, we need to be cautious that we do not retreat too much.
We retreat from the help of others when we assume we know it all or not enough, when we fear bothering others, when we think no one understands us, when we becoming unwilling to change, or when we assume no one else will. We can do this to each other as well, we can avoid fellow teachers, assume people’s strengths or limits.
We change this when, simply, we ask:
- “Could you listen to this…”
- “How did you…”
- “Can you show me…”
- “Can you help me…”
Even though I’m only about 6 hours into my antibiotic treatment and my ears still feel like they are stuffed with cotton — I know my hearing is improving and ready to listen a bit differently during this school year.
Thanks for all you do!