The Million Dollar Meal and the Six Year-Old

I got to go to Indiana just a few days ago for the Drum Corps International Championships. (If you don’t know what that is you should look up DCI shows on YouTube. They’re phenomenal.) I was flying by myself to and from Indiana and on the way there, nothing too exciting happened. But, on my flight leaving Indianapolis for Chicago, I got on near the end, and was really excited that no one was sitting next to me and the window seat. Awesome, I could plug into my music and zone out for an hour or two.

Wrong. The last person on the plane stumbled a six foot man wearing sunglasses and a sports jacket over a T-shirt. Of course he was going to sit by me, and he did. I was still pretty determined to put in my headphones and ignore him, but before we had even left the gate he was asking me where I was from and why I was in Indiana.

After exchanging reasons why we were visiting the Racing Capitol of the World, he told me he lived between Florida and Minnesota. We talked about ambition and passion, and why follow your dreams instead of succumbing to do what the world thinks you should do.

We talked about love, and how the world is too small and life is too short to stay in one place and do one thing. It was fascinating. I didn’t even know his name until we were stepping off the plane. At that point he decided to tell me he had more money than he could think of to do with, and his name.

He was rather disappointed that I had never been to Chicago, and made it his mission to take me to his favorite restuarant which conveniently had a location inside the airport. We went to Billy Goat and had Rib Eye Steak Sandwiches.

It’s not everyday you meet a millionaire who takes you to dinner and doesn’t ask your name until 30 minutes before boarding your next flight.

I thought I’d had my share of excitement, but 20 minutes before boarding my next flight, a small family sat down next to me in the waiting area. They minded their business and I, mine. Until the little girl laid down over the seats and he arm was intruding my space. So I looked at her, and when she looked at me, I told her, “I like your nail polish”.

She went off! She told me all about her trip to he nail salon and why she picked purple. She only stopped for about a minute to listen to me talk about why I wasn’t in Ohio where they were. She told me her parents lived in separate places and they were both seeing other people. She told me about her snake that she had won at some corn festival and why she was going home. She didn’t know where Chandler or Tempe was, but once I tried to explain it, she tried to understand.

I think maybe the most rewarding moment of the whole day was when her dad offered her a ย bag of jolly ranchers and she desperately searched for a red cherry one. She pulled out a pink one and asked me to read it to her, and when I asked her why, she told me she couldn’t read the whole word.

So I pointed to the first letter of the word and said, “Do you know what letter this is?”

Of course she knew it was a “w”, and I Asked her, “What sound does a ‘W’ make?”


“Does Cherry start with a wuh sound?”

The light that went off in her eyes was wonderful. The moment she realized she didn’t need to be able to read the whole word, she just needed to use clues to figure it out, she lite up and even offered me a blue one.

Perhaps, that is why I want to teach, I love the moment when it makes sense to people, especially children.

IPablo Picasso guess on another note, Ainsley, the six year-old, made a good point to me, that you don’t need to see the whole picture all at once, you just need to understand the first part, and then the next and eventually you’ll get all the way there. It’s funny isn’t it, that the best teachers are the ones who are not yet tainted by the dictations of what the world thinks.

There’s a great Picasso quote (Again Pinterest. I’m sensing a theme).

Way to go Picasso, you coined the phrase that every educator wants to hear. Let’s just hope I can figure out how to keep children artistic.


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