Asking the right questions can be the difference between a life well lived or just following the dull path of others. I learned this lesson from a six-year-old, many years ago.
My girlfriend, at the time, had to work so asked me to take her son to the first day of kindergarten. It was an exciting time for us, full of promise. We really didn’t know what to expect but hoped little Chris would make new friends and start on the path to success.
My K-12 experience had not been stellar as I had been expelled from two different school districts. It took a war and paying for a lot of mistakes before I finally finished my education cumulating with a doctorate. I wanted Chris to have, shall we say, a more expediant experience.
When I arrived at the little country school, I kept a tight grip on Chris’ hand as we negotiated our way through the crowds of the first day of school. The atmosphere was electric with promise. His teacher met us at the front gate and said that the policy of the school was leave children with her and she would escort them together to the classroom. She said it was the best way for the children emotionally. I reluctantly complied, hugged Chris and drove off.
The drive from school to home was about fifteen minutes. I no sooner arrived home then to find a message from the principal urging me to come back ASAP. Chris was in trouble.
I received a cold greeting as the secretary escorted me into principal’s office. It reminded me of the many visits I had made in my misspent youth. The principle was solemn, greeting me from behind her desk. Chris sat dejected in his chair. This boy so quick to laughter was slumped over on the verge of crying. It broke my heart.
I learned that upon entering the kinder classroom Chris paused, while all the children were being guided to their desks, and yelled, “What the hell’s going on in here?”
In a moment of clarity, I looked from the frowning principal to the Chris, tears now streaking down his little cheeks. It was obvious the principal did not find this at all amusing or get the lesson that was before us.
In as polite a tone as I could muster, I smiled and said, “You know, it has taken me thirty years to ask the same question.”
We were both escorted out the front office.