When punting, be sure to wear an appropriate hat!

This week, Lily (my inner fourteen-year-old) and I have done considerable punting. I know what you’re thinking: what are they doing out in a small, flat-bottomed boat at this time of year? If we were in Australia, you might suspect us of gambling. But no, we’re in America, and we’re punting in the American sense. It’s kicking time. Figuratively, that is.

If you’re confused at this point, so am I. It’s been that kind of week. The expected disorientation of a Monday holiday happened, of course, but on Tuesday the Spanish 121 professor announced that the second exam, scheduled for Friday, would be mostly a take-home test. This change in expectations made me stumble (as it always does) but it didn’t sound all that bad, until he added we were required- –REQUIRED– -to seek the help of a tutor to complete the exam!

My first thought was “AHHHHHHHHH! NOOOOOOOO!” Two changes, delivered within seconds of each other in a language I barely comprehend was more than I could process. I raised my hand.


(No, this does not mean “pregnant.” It’s a false cognate because. . .well, never mind that for now. Pregunta is the Spanish word for question.)

“Si, Susana?”

Fortunately, we are not (yet) required to ask our questions in Spanish. I kick the figurative football.

“How do I find a tutor?”

My classmates knew exactly how. Miriam, one of my table mates, gave me two options to pursue when class was over. The first was to ask the student center receptionist who is a fluent Spanish speaker for help. Miriam introduced me to Glenda, and Glenda said she’d be glad to help me. She’d have to check her schedule, but. . .

We arranged to meet on campus at 2 PM on Thursday. At 10:30 that morning she sent an email- -very sorry she couldn’t make it, unanticipated scheduling conflict, etc. I sent a gracious, “no worries”-themed reply and immediately started to worry. The test was due the next morning, before class! I’d worked my way through most of it but the last section relied entirely on getting information from a tutor- -their name, where their family is from, what I would exchange with them for their assistance. I suppose I could have faked it, but, though I write fiction, I do not write it in Spanish. Yet.

Punting down life’s mischievous river to Miriam’s Plan B, which had become my best and only bet (and therefore reminiscent of punting in the Australian sense), I realize it’s time to visit to the campus Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC). According to Miriam, a really good Spanish tutor was supposed to be there from. . .something like noon to 1:30?

Get moving! We probably need to sign up or get in line or something!

Yes, dear. I mean yes, Lily.


On the way there I reminded myself that when I need help, if I stay positive and find right person, things will work out. The schedule posted near the TLC door listed a Spanish tutor, someone who would be there from 12:30 to 2 PM.


I was stupidly nervous going through the door, acutely aware of being three times the age of everyone inside. But it turned out really, really well.


Careful, Lily, you’re dancing on the edge of I-told-you-so.

Call it like you see it, Susan.

Ignore her. An extremely helpful Spanish tutor named Eli came on at noon. How I missed her name when I was reading the schedule I’ll never know.

Simple. You were panicking.

The parts of the exam I’d already completed benefited from a few tweaks and corrections. The last section required Eli’s collaboration and it was fun to learn a little bit about her. We were done in 20 minutes, total. The only thing she required of me was my student ID number for the TLC records.

So have you learned anything, besides a few more Spanish words and phrases?

Yes I have, Lily. Hear this, sports fans: punting is a natural part of life. It is pointless to worry when plans go off the rails. Get back in the game and give it your best kick!

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