I am a reasonably effective fourth grade teacher. I know how to plan lessons, deliver instruction and grade papers. I can manage a classroom and hold the attention of students. I can scold.
I have other talents. I can fly-fish, sail a J 24 single-handed and ski through moguls. I can grill a steak, fry a burger and toast a cheese sandwich. I can make meat lasagna, chicken curry and turkey enchiladas. I can blend a daiquiri, shoot tequila and mix a martini. I have made beer.
I can ride a bike from Seattle to Portland in one day. I have run a marathon. I have climbed Mount Si, Mount Pilchuk and most of Mount Baker. I have swum laps.
I can write a five-paragraph essay. About anything. I can write a business letter, a friendly letter and a resume. I can write a personal narrative, a trickster tale or a fable. I can write a haiku.
I can paint a house. I can clean a roof, fix a pipe and unclog a toilet. I can replace rain gutters, start a lawn from seed and build a fence. I have replaced a garbage disposal.
I can do all of these things and more; yet I cannot, for the life of me, support, sustain or even fathom the triple-girl friendship.
Like wet snow on a steep slope or a six-point lead at halftime, the triple-girl friendship is inherently unstable. It’s asking for trouble, like a fish tank on a golf course or an old man on ice skates. It is caesium. It is your first bike ride.
The triple-girl friendship has no memory of its own failure. It ruined last week’s literature circle, yet honestly believes it can collaborate on a five-slide Oregon Trail PowerPoint. It cannot. It drove last month’s chaperone crazy, yet pleads to be together on next month’s field trip. It will not. The triple girl friendship goes out to recess with three smiles and a long jump rope. It comes back crying.
The triple-girl friendship defies counseling. It can write in eloquent cursive exactly what it did wrong and what it will do differently next time, and then do exactly what it did wrong again. It can recite the anti-bullying pledge with no sense of irony.
It is late January. There are just about 100 more days of school. Lord help me.