Dear Parents and Students,
Sandra and I bought a new car this summer. It’s the first truly new car either of us has bought in many years. But the old car had three outstanding recalls and there seemed no fix in sight from the manufacturer so we went out shopping.
We got a pretty good deal and really like the new car. My favorite feature is the dashboard display that shows mileage every five miles in graph form. The old math teacher in me thinks that is really cool. And this graph helps me to learn to drive in a fashion that conserves fuel. The tough part is that the driver is not totally in charge of getting good mileage in this car. The terrain of the roads we drive makes a big difference in mileage. This car is not meant for high speeds, it is an “around town commute” car. So when I hit 280, mileage is comparatively low. As I cruise through Golden Gate Park or along Great Highway, the mileage almost doubles. This creates a graph that has a lot of ups and downs.
Which brings me to the point of this letter. Life is very much like that graph in my car. High speeds and driving up hills really affect mileage in a negative way. Driving at a reasonable speed and cruising down hill, the car gets great mileage.
This “herky jerky” graph could probably represent good times and tough times in life as well. So whether it’s you, me, or the kids, don’t expect that graph to top out and stay perfectly consistent. That is not real life. We do the best we can and sometimes we are better humans for struggling through the tough times. And as parents and teachers we can use those tough times as “teaching moments”. Teach the kids and correct them, but do so in an encouraging way. Our lives should not be judged by every moment on a graph but by the positive direction in which we head.
Last week I found a new button on the car. When I push it, it tells the mileage the car has gotten from the day I bought it. It’s an electric car and when I did the math I found out that it gets 91 miles for the cost of a gallon of gasoline. When we look at the big picture we will probably see that in spite of a low point here and there, our kids are also getting great mileage!
Have a good week,
PS – My son Mike and his wife Allie are expecting their first child in early April. Not bad for a kid who had a lot of his own ups and downs.