Reality Check: Jimmy meets Mrs. Crabapple

Ever since he was little, Jimmy wanted to be a pilot. Now, he’s finally ready for that first step on the road to realizing his dream. It’s time to go to ground school.

Jimmy’s never been academically inclined. High school was just a place to hang out with friends, meet girls, and socialize. Learning was irrelevant, as far as he could tell.

With ground school on the horizon, Jimmy started looking at what he’d need to learn. Shockingly, it turns out that you need do calculations, such as figuring out how much fuel to put in your plane! This assumes he understands subjects he never thought he’d see in real life, like math. Who knew?

Even worse, experienced pilots have been giving him a heads-up about the instructor, Mrs. Crabapple. They tell frightening stories. “She’s scary. She’s nasty. If you argue with her, she’ll fail you. If you’re a wise guy, she’ll fail you. If you miss a day, if you’re late, if your homework’s not done, she’ll fail you.”

Jimmy would dearly love to go to some other ground school somewhere else, with a nice instructor. However, finances dictate that it’s this ground school or none at all.

So, between Jimmy and his dream stands Mrs. Crabapple. He wishes it was different. However, despite Jimmy’s wishes, Mrs. Crabapple is not going anywhere.

What could any of us do in this sort of situation? Here are some suggestions.

  • We may as well accept that there are many things we cannot control. Jimmy cannot control Mrs. Crabapple’s behaviour. Wishing it was different and dwelling on the unfairness isn’t helpful. Energy spent fretting over the horror stories is not helpful.
  • We could view the situation as an opportunity. For Jimmy, he can use his time with Mrs. Crabapple to learn to pay attention to detail, to learn discipline, and to carefully follow instructions. Come to think of it, those are helpful qualities in a pilot!
  • Instead of grinding over dire stories, we could use them as advice. Jimmy knows that Mrs. Crabapple is aggravated when people are late, so he can always be early. She is irritated by people who don’t do their homework, he will always do his. She reserves a special torture for those who dare to challenge her; he will exercise restraint.
  • Certain behaviours will be helpful for Jimmy or for anyone in a similar situation. For example, do every activity that’s asked, no matter how irrelevant it may seem. If you don’t understand, ask for help from others who have succeeded. Most importantly, no matter how anyone tries to antagonize you, let small insults or irritants go, like water off a duck’s back. (That can be difficult for any of us.)

Standing between Jimmy and his goal is Mrs. Crabapple. She may be tough. She may be aggravating. She may not be fair. But this is not an insurmountable hurdle. Many have succeeded in this situation, whereas those who dropped out will never realize their dream. Which will he do? Only Jimmy can control that.

Do you have other suggestions for Jimmy to help him reach his goal?

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