The weekend before last, the agency that refers students to me called and asked if I'd accept a 13-year old girl as a student. The girl had lived in the U.S. for awhile and (they're guessing) has relatively advanced English ability. The agency hadn't had any direct communication with the girl herself. They negotiated through her mother so they couldn't tell me much about her. They speculated that she was probably studying so that she could maintain the level of fluency she acquired while living in the U.S.
After about a week, the agency said that they'd confirmed a trial lesson with the girl and gave me her mother's name, e-mail address and phone number. They didn't, however, tell me the girl's first name so I asked them what it was. It's at this point that things get a bit strange. They told me that the mother wouldn't tell them the girl's name because she was too "cautious".
The trial lesson is scheduled for this afternoon and I'm not sure what to expect when the girl is supposed to show up at my front door. I have a suspicion that the mother will show up with her and may even ask to sit in with the lesson. If I were teaching in a classroom where the mother could unobtrusively observe from the back of a large room, I wouldn't care about this, but that isn't the case. I teach in a 9' x 9' room which is closed off from other rooms to air condition it more efficiently. There is no "unobtrusive" way for anyone to observe.
Of course, I could be wrong about the mother horning in. I have quite the tendency to panic and extrapolate the worst in any given situation. I'm one of those people who thinks I'm going to prick a finger, get an infection, be given drugs that damage my other limbs and end up a quadruple amputee. It's a tendency I've been endeavoring to reign in for years now with some success. In odd or very uncertain situations, however, I tend to gravitate back to this type of self-defeating tendency.
I know these situations are supposed to be growth experiences and I try to see them in that light, but sometimes it's difficult. In 98% of situations where I play out the worst outcome in my imagination, things turn out to be just fine. In one particular case in my past though, it was as bad as the worst I imagined and I think that still haunts me. That was a situation which I talked about in my former blog where I feared refusing to work on my day off might get me fired, and it very nearly did.
Ultimately, this tendency is part of a defense mechanism which I'm sure I developed as a child growing up in a family with a lot of emotional instability from a depressed and neurotic mother and an alcoholic father. If you can predict the worst possible outcome at the beginning of a situation, you can defend or protect yourself. Though such behavior served me well as a kid in a family with problems, it no longer serves me in most cases and tends to cloud my judgment. It's like an old battered shield that I still raise in times of uncertainty even though I no longer live in the heat of a battle.