What Goes Around?

I don’t believe in karma – not in the great cosmic sense anyway. Sure, I’ll buy that our actions tend to have consequences. We reap what we sow, we get what we deserve. What goes around comes around…we don’t have all these cliches because there’s no merit to the general principle that what we go impacts what we will get out of life. What I don’t believe is that all good things that happen to us must be balanced out by bad.

Generally speaking, that is. Yesterday, I believed it completely.

I got a phone call yesterday afternoon from a camp I had applied to for a general summer job. I applied a bit late, so I figured they might be able to tuck me into some part-time assistant director position, or perhaps a full-time counselor spot. About two weeks ago, they called me to ask if I might be interested in heading up the curriculum development for their pilot summer partner program with Boston Public Schools. I almost drooled over myself saying yes, and since they could not see that fact that I was all but rabid with joy, they invited me in for an interview.

I apparently managed to keep my giddy glee in check for the interview, because the phone call yesterday was an official job offer. Not only are they bringing me on for two weeks longer than I had originally thought, they’re paying me far, far more than I had hoped to make at a summer camp job. I’m at the point in my career where I expect to put up with low pay while I’m building real world experience, and their offer blew my expectations out of the water. Needless to say, I was walking on sunshine all the way in to work.

Work was fine, really…up to the point that my assistant left to head to his class. I was in ratio (enough teachers per student, by law), but only just, and the chaos level was a bit high as I was dashing from homework table to science station to craft center to supervise, encourage, and lend the aid of my adult fine motor skills. When the older kids called me over to their table, it took my brain a few infinitely long seconds to realize that they were calling me not because one of the younger children was crying, but because he was bleeding from a gaping head wound.

Okay, okay, a half-inch cut on his forehead may not exactly qualify as a gaping head wound, but have you ever treated a head wound of any kind? There is a lot of blood in our heads, people, and it does not take much of a cut to drain a substantial portion. I’m first aid certified, of course, but until yesterday I could honestly say that I’ve never dealt with anything worse than a bloody nose. Fortunately, the injury happened about the same time many of my kids’ parents pick them up and one of the custodians happened to be passing through, so I had plenty offers of support as I was doing my best to wash and cover the wound. Fortunately, the student didn’t lose consciousness or have any signs of concussion, so I didn’t need to have him transported to the hospital for emergency care. Fortunately, the incident was not nearly as bad as it could have been.

All the same, by the time I got him cleaned up and sitting quietly with some apple juice, I was shaking from the adrenaline. All of my happy sunshine had been replaced by a sick feeling in my stomach. These children are not my children, but when something truly bad happens to one of them, the reaction is deep and visceral. It leaves me no room to enjoy the good things that are happening outside of work.

It leaves me also weirdly wary of good things, for fear karma will call something bad down on one of my kids.

2 thoughts on “What Goes Around?

  1. Oh, Melissa…such a hard experience. Children are just so darn vulnerable…..and innocent. We always hurt when they hurt. Sounds like you handled it just great…..lucky kids.
    Don’t begin to connect the good with the bad. They just both happen in life. The trick is to truly enjoy the good and genuinely care about the bad. I think you do both very well. Don’t change that ability. I am always harrassing my clients about the use of the work ‘but’. The word ‘and’ is usually so much better.


  2. First congrats on the job and I hope it is all you expected. Secondly, life happens. Bad does happen but please don’t expect it to follow the good. It has never been my experience. They are all just random experiences and it sounds like you handled them quite well. Keep up the good work.


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