The other day, a girl kept her hand up by her mouth, in an I-just-ate-something-bad-and-might-spit-it-out-on-my-hand gesture, all period. At first, I thought she had a cough and was trying to preemptively cover it. When no cough emerged, I thought perhaps she felt nauseous and planned to throw up. Judging the barfing range to trashcan distance, I didn’t think she had a chance.
What would you do if you thought someone was about to hurl in your room? I pulled her aside—and she walked toward me with her hand over her face. I asked what was wrong. Was she sick? Was she hurt? Did someone hit her? Was she trying to cover a bruise? Did she somehow manage to give herself a curling iron burn on her lip??? I don’t know??? Things happen!
When I finally convinced her to show me her face, I saw a small pimple on the crease of her nose. I tried to explain that it didn’t look bad, that she was actually drawing more attention to herself by having her hand on her face all day as though she had some rare skin condition. She wouldn’t budge. Her hand flashed back to her face so fast I thought she was a robot with a spring in her arm. She stayed that way—writing with her left hand, I assume—the entire class period.
How could I make her understand that there were people in Syria who had lived through chemical warfare, that there were judges handing out slaps on the wrist for crimes against women, that some people were trying to survive with little food and unclean water? How could I explain that this zit wasn’t even a molehill; it was just a clogged oil gland. So, I didn’t.
The next day, she had her hand by her side; the blemish had been camouflaged with a little foundation. And the world kept turning.
What do you make a mountain out of?