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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Football or Asking Questions? Which Would You Choose?

A few years ago, a child of mine very much wanted to play football. And hockey. Both are sports with large followings in our community. I said no to both. For one thing, this kid has a disability, and we didn't need to risk a head injury on top of that. The research on concussions was just starting to come out. For another, I knew the mom of a teenager who had just suffered a horrendous concussion playing football. "He's getting better," she regularly told me months later "But he's not my kid. He has outbursts of temper, he can't remember things long enough to do his school work.  He's still not my kid yet. I haven't got him back." 

We live in a racially and ethnically mixed neighborhood where we walk a lot, and as we do, we talk a lot to neighbors.  (Our walks can take a very long time.) As we walked to school, we saw the grown son of one of our neighbors (the ones who own the music school) using a pick axe to dig under a concrete side walk, a few tilted slabs beside him.  Naturally, we stopped to talk. 

In his digging, this man had discovered a thin vein of coal. Curious, he began to follow the vein--this is when we arrived. Instantly, we were as curious as he was. What was it doing there? Coal? Under a sidewalk? Why did it stretch out under the grass lawn?

Then his father came out to check on the son's labors and scolded the younger man in no uncertain terms--"Get back to work. What does it matter where it came from? Stop thinking and dig." 

You could see his father's harsh tone smarted the younger man. We stayed and chatted a few moments so he could see that we weren't judging him and also, to take away some of the sting of the scolding. My kid said he wanted to play football, and that got the younger man talking about all his years of playing football, starting with peewee. 

After we left, my kid commented, resentfully, "He got to play football. Why can't I."  

"Yes," I said. "But he doesn't get to ask questions. Which would you rather have? Football or being able to ask questions?" 

He thought about it for a block or two. "Questions. I'd rather be able to ask questions." 

Yes. That's my kid. 

(Okay, neither one of theses pictures is my kid--I don't post their images on the internet--but they sure could be my kid!)

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