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Let Them Unfold


He came flying off of the bus in a scene that looked like it belonged in an action movie. Jumping and hitting at the same time, his mission was to hurt another child. There was no excuse for this type of anger and violence. I immediately took him to my office, all the while giving him the business about what I had just seen.

What were you doing?

What made you think it was okay to do that?

Blah, blah, blah.

And then I finally stopped talking and I got to hear why this student was so angry.

He proceeded to tell me that the student he was mad at had gone into his shed last night, stolen his only bike from him and had been bragging about it on the bus to anyone who would listen.


It didn’t excuse the violence. But who’s to say I wouldn’t have done the same thing if I had been in his place? I don’t know and it would be arrogant of me to think that I would have handled it any differently or any better.

Sometimes I think I need to allow moments to gradually unfold themselves. And like a map that is tucked away in our pocket, as we unfold them and begin to see them in their entirety, we will then be able to better determine which direction we should head, if any at all.

A Step Backward

Just recently I was fortunate enough to get to take my family to Disney World. We had a blast and I don’t think I could have a had a better time. For the first time in years, neither of us was sick and for that we were grateful. But, there was one day during which I had a bad headache that caused me to lie down for a while. It was the middle of the day and we had all come back to the room to rest. Everyone except my daughter that is. As I was lying down trying to fall asleep, she felt the need to count out every coin in her change purse.

The constant clanking of the coins was driving me crazy! I could not fall asleep. I tried to ignore it as best I could. It bothered me that she felt the need to continue to count her coins out when she knew that I didn’t feel well. How inconsiderate!

Finally, I sat up and said, “Bailey, what are you doing?” To which she replied, “Daddy, I am counting my money to see if I have enough to buy Derek something.”

Need I say more?

I should have just sat up and asked her what she was doing. At which point I would’ve had a proud dad moment and  would’ve been able to happily drift off to sleep. Instead, I jumped to conclusions and made the assumption that my daughter was not concerned about keeping me awake.

A Step Forward

He was in my office because he had lost his temper and needed a place to calm down. Not a problem. That’s my job and I welcome the challenge. I allowed him to play for a bit on my iPad because I knew in the past that this strategy has worked and was hoping it would work again.

It was working. He was calming down and I knew that in a few minutes we would be able to talk about what had happened in the hopes of returning him to his class sooner rather than later. We were just about ready to talk when all of a sudden another student busted through my closed-door as angry as I’d ever seen him.

I became a bit worried because I didn’t know how these two would play off of each other. Well, my new arrival got in the other student’s face and actually head butted his chin. Not hard. But hard enough to make him angry. Hard enough to tick him off. He responded by calling him a few choice words.

Uh oh.

I knew it was getting ready to be ugly and I that I had better prepare myself physically and mentally for what to do next. But I just watched, and waited, and did nothing. And the most amazing thing happened. They bonded. Over a game on my iPad. I did nothing to make this happen. Or maybe it was the fact that I did nothing that allowed it to happen.

I could not believe what I had just witnessed. Two minutes prior there was head butting. Now, their heads were a mere 6 inches apart as they peacefully played on my iPad. I actually took a photo so that I could prove to myself that I wasn’t hallucinating. I cropped the photo to preserve their anonymity, but as you can see, the two boys are mere inches apart.


A Moving Walkway

There is something about escalators that my son absolutely adores. He could ride them all day long if we’d let him. There have actually been times when my Derek and I ride simply ride up and down the escalator while my wife and daughter shopped.

You can only imagine my son’s interest in the moving walkways that can be found at major airports. Well last week as we were walking through BWI Airport my son spotted the walkway and was thrilled. So thrilled in fact that he decided it would be fun to take the walkway on the left.

In other words, the walkway moving the opposite direction that we were heading. The airport wasn’t too crowded, but I was still worried about his decision. He’s three and he loves to have fun. But I am his father and responsible for his safety and his actions.

Everything started out fine. It was early and nobody happened to be on the walkway when my son began his quest. My son was working his way down the walkway. Then as he got near the end I noticed that there was a man waiting to get on. I felt the need to apologize and to be honest I can’t remember if I did or not.

I soon learned that even if I had, it would not have made any difference. For the man waiting to get on the walkway was a kid at heart and I think he was deliberately placed there to teach me something. And he did.

As my son neared the end of the walkway the man who was forced to wait for him gave him a big smile and said


“You are so brave!”

In the words of Jeff Spicoli from the 80’s classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High, “Awesome, totally awesome!”

My Next Step

If we truly believe that each moment in our lives is unique, then why do we feel that we must immediately understand each one? Not only do we feel we must understand each moment right away, we also feel that we must act on each moment right away.

At least I do.

And I must get better at this.

I must allow moments to unfold.

Because when I don’t, I often rush to judgment.

And that is not good.

Thankfully the man at the end of the walkway didn’t.

He just waited, and in doing so was able to find the true meaning in the moment.

“You are so brave!”

Why didn’t I think of that?

Hopefully I will next time!

I know that I will continue to take many more steps on my journey. Some will be forward and some will be backward. But more than anything I must remind myself not to step right away.

And maybe, just maybe

if I begin to allow moments to unfold themselves

I will be able to see them for what they truly are.

That would be nice.

2 comments on “Let Them Unfold

  1. In the moment, it’s almost impossible not to rush to make assumptions. It’s just part of our nature to think and act. But taking the time to reflect on each of these incidences is where the true learning takes place. Great reminder to have our students take time to reflect on their actions as well.

  2. Hi Jon,
    What great examples from school life and home life! You’ve made me think about all of the times that I have rushed in to solve something without letting it unfold. What opportunities have I taken away from my students, my own kids, because I haven’t let it unfold naturally? Thoughtfulness and observation can help me stop making assumptions, and allow the moments to shine!

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