Thursday, April 15, 2010

Social Studies Collision

Two days ago, when Emma returned from school she wasn't quite her usual bubbly self and I asked her if anything had happened at school and she responded, "Nothing out of the ordinary, but something just a little AWFUL happened." My curiosity was piqued to say the least. Emma went on to explain her social studies class was holding a mock town hall meeting about the possible expansion of slavery into the north. Students were assigned various roles for the assignment an Emma's AWFUL moment came when she was assigned her role...she was cast as a southern land and slave owner who had moved north and was classified as a "pro-slavery radical. " Those kids assigned the pro-slavery roles were expected to be vocal and quite mean.

During dinner we were careful to remind Emma that no-one would think she was really a pro-slavery radical just because she was assigned a role. A big help in understanding history is bringing events to life. Emma had an acting job to do and nothing more. She seemed to understand what we were saying, but lamented,"You know, this casting is like exactly the opposite of my personal beliefs and you know, acting is just not my thing. I really hope I can do it." We did a little role playing at the dinner table and spoke in poor southern accents in hopes of inspiring Emma to succeed in her social studies acting challenge.

The following day I picked Emma up from school and asked her how the town hall meeting went. She replied, "Mr. P said he really wasn't sure if I had it in me, but was happy I pulled it off! I made a couple of good points during the debate and I am just glad it is over." And that was pretty much the last comment she made on the subject.

After dropping her off at dance I continued on my way to drop a couple of boys at soccer practice. As I was driving down Chicago Avenue I was thinking how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that mock debate or at the very least talk to Mr. P about how he thought his class handled the assignment. Meanwhile, traffic eased to a stop and an oncoming vehicle was attempting to make a left turn. The car in front of me backed up a little to make some room for the car to make the turn and I checked my rear view mirror and did the same, but CRUNCH...
I totally hit the car behind me.
Now let me be clear, I have never hit anything with my car (except for the pole in my alley) and I have never even received a speeding ticket. I am a stranger to most all traffic altercations
I pulled over immediately and got out of the car saying, "I am so sorry, but I totally have insurance because I am a good girl." Apparently I regress when involved in a traffic incident.
The man said, "You are Emma Elsmo's mom."
As soon as I looked at him I realized I had gone all bumper to bumper with Emma's social studies teacher, Mr. P. Now I ask you, what are the freaking chances of that? I totally hit Emma's teacher in the exact moment I was thinking about his class. Weird...weird and well, embarrassing. He shook my hand and we had a good chuckle. I did a good deal of nervous laughing. We inspected his car and he declared it was damage free save for a small crack in his fender. He jokingly accused me of backing my car into his to get back at him for giving Emma a B on a paper. We even had a nice little chat about the mock debate and Emma's role as a pro-slavery radical on the side of the road. It was a bizarre "ask and you shall receive" kind of moment to say the least. We parted ways with a promise if his fender fell off he would let me know.

Emma was wildly embarrassed when I told her about my driving error, but she thought it was quite a humorous coincidence. I was left feeling grateful she gets to spend her days with such a quality individual. In a moment where Mr. P could have been quite upset with me, he treated me with kindness and grace. He is clearly a tremendous role model for his young students and I am grateful Emma has been under his influence this year. He is a superstar both in and out of the classroom and if I looked at this experience as a social studies assignment, Mr P would surely get an A+!


Mary said...

NO FREAKIN WAY! Way to weird, glad you are okay. Poor Emma, I feel bad she had to play the role I can't imagine her even acting it out...just seems way to out of character for her...maybe why she was chosen for the part...tackling a challenge

cora said...

Wow....that is "crazy".

It's amazing how things happen. The fact you ran into him (literally) was a higher force saying that -that particular "meeting of sorts" a way to make sure that Emma was ok by him talking to you..and a way to see that YOU were ok with the concern and love you have for your daughter.

I'm a big believer that "things happen for a reason", although it was a little bumper mishap....the overall big picture is that--the meeting you 2 had with each other was about making sure everything was "ok" w/emotions, feelings and understanding. I believe that meeting happened for good reason!

thanks for sharing..!!

Mb said...

this could only happen to you. How funny (now).

Nubia said...

Isn't the world crazy? I have hardly been in accidents that were my fault either, but I did get into a fender bender about 2 years ago. While waiting for the cops to show up (they never came), I found out that this woman was the mother of my friend's daughter who had just moved to DC. This woman lived in Springfield and was in Chicago to visit her daughter whom I heard so much about. To say the least, it was a hilariously weird moment and we also decided to deal with any damages on our own.

too funny!

As for Ms. Emma, I love that she feels bad for having to defend something she doesn't believe in. It says so much about her good heart!

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