Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Suffice to say they really do clam up

"a creature living in the water of the seas"
Leviticus 11:9

Adventures in dissection, today.  Have I mentioned how much I love homeschooling?

My girl had instructions to dissect a clam, for her marine biology course, so we bought one this weekend, and set out to do the distasteful thing this morning. 

A clam may seem only mildly distasteful to you, but she's allergic to mollusks, so she had more than a little trepidation about handling one, even with gloves on. 

That's my girl and me.  She's the one wearing the hazmat get-up.

But as it turned out, the most difficult part of the whole experience was just getting the darn thing to open. 

We had our tools and our gloves, a clean, well-lit workspace, and my boy taking pictures for posterity and for my girl to look at later as she studies and reminds herself what she learned.  But our preparation amounted to nothing as first she, and then I, took creature in hand to force him to teach us. 

Needless to say, we don't eat a lot of shellfish here.  I did when I was growing up.  My whole family loves fish of almost all kinds (we fondly remember the all-you-can-eat dinners at the Chesapeake Bay Seafood House) and my dad cooked a lot of it himself.  Apparently I was busy setting the table or making the salad or something, because I certainly never learned how to open a clam. 

We read in her textbook what to do.  And we tried.  Then we looked it up online.  And we tried.  Then we found a video online, and we watched and followed along.  At least, we tried.  We switched tools a couple of times, since we don't own a clam knife.  And all the while I could swear I could hear bi-valve laughter. 

But what I heard more than that was, "Please don't hurt yourself, Mom."  Forty-seven times.  Per child.  Which was partially because I was holding a semi-sharp object in my hand and aiming it in the general direction of my other hand; partially because I was doing something I'd never done before, and they knew it; and partially because I am ever-so-slightly accident-prone. 

{"Ever-so-slightly" meaning that I don't hurt myself a lot, 
but when I do, I do a good job.  
Wanna hear about my broken toe?}

Well, of course we finally got into the little sucker.  We inspected the gills and the foot and the mantle.  And we identified what we're pretty sure was the digestive tract and the siphons.  All-in-all, I think it was pretty interesting, and not bad smelling, as dissection goes. 

But I hurt myself.

Not a bad hurt.  No slipping, stabbing or bleeding.  But I realized, about an hour after the Battle with the Clam, that I was red and sore on my finger where I'd been pushing on the knife, trying to get it in between the upper and lower shell.  Just a bit of a pressure or friction thing, ya know?  And I kinda laughed to myself because my kids had warned me, and still I hurt myself.

Pain's a surprising thing sometimes.  It catches us off-guard.  Or worse, catches us when we're on guard, but for something else.   It's why God tells us to put on our armor ~ so we don't get hurt in any way that's unnecessary.  And it's why He tells us that in this world we will experience tribulation ~ so we don't feel shocked and unprepared when it happens. 

There is expected pain, sometimes, that we know is likely, but we take the chance anyway.  Like playing catch with a young child.  And there is careless pain.  Pain we could have avoided, but were too lazy or skeptical to.  "Nah... I don't need the helmet; I'll be fine."  But there is also the unexpected pain.  The pain we never thought would happen, like being betrayed by a friend.  I think that's the worst.  That pain that comes from choosing to be vulnerable in some way, and then being stabbed in the back. 

Some pain God intends, but some He doesn't.  That doesn't mean He won't make good from all our pain, but obedience will protect us from a lot of it. 

And He will heal us from all of it.

~ "Heal me, Lord,
  and I will be healed;
save me
and I will be saved,
    for you are the One I praise" ~
Jeremiah 17:14

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