The school hallway loomed as large as an airplane hangar as I paced towards the Principal’s Office. Without the crowds of kids shuffling from class to class, or dashing out the door to busses, everything felt eerily quiet and empty. Especially to a small nine-year-old.
I was in trouble for something. Most of the time, I didn’t know what, until someone told me. Then I remembered. It was usually because of a fight.
After arriving at the main office, they directed me to wait on a bench. All too soon, I found myself called into the Principal’s Office, where I sat and stared up at him, as he read through some files about me.
He was so bald, his head shone, and he sported a big, wacky, bushy beard.
He spoke with a booming voice that was too jubilant to be God-like.
He fussed with the papers a little more. Then he turned, looked down at me, nodded his head, and boomed, “You’re a… you know… YOU’RE A GOOD KID.”
Okay, I was a good kid.
I had never consciously considered the idea, one way or the other. But in that moment, a perfect storm of psychological sparks came together. I was visiting one of the most authoritative figures in my existence. I was scared, but my guard was down because I deferred to him.
And he declared something about me with complete conviction.
His words didn’t just seep into my consciousness.
They zipped inside like light beams shooting through the universe.
Invisible until they hit something.
Sure, I had my problems for years after that. Awful ones. But what’s striking is how I never stole cars, dealt drugs or abused the hard ones, or became a criminal. Some of that was probably because I was too alone and lacked the creativity… but I wonder how much the Principal helped that day. Along with everyone else who affirmed I was inherently okay.
Thank you, Principal, for reminding me of a truth I needed to hear.
It’s horrible that some children hear the opposite. A sick tragedy. They’re growing and absorbing as much information as they can… completely unable to sift and sort like they should… and someone tells them they’re bad.
The programming slips right in… folds itself into a deep crevice… and runs for the rest of the child’s life. Into adulthood.
Unleashing yet another cycle of pain.
I still need to remind myself that I’m a good kid. It’s interesting how one’s self-image can vary so much, based on splintering one’s life into sections. Money. Sex. Appearance. Parent. Boss.
But the reminder is so simple. If your heart’s in the right place, you’re okay. You’re human. Yeah, you make mistakes.
But… YOU’RE A GOOD KID!