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Questions Are the Answer

''Isaac, your pants are on backwards."

"No they're not," my son replied without even looking down at his pants. When he was a pre-schooler, he would completely disrobe when using the bathroom, and then emerge with his clothing haphazardly reapplied.

"Yes, they are," I said.

"No, they're not!" he insisted, too busy chasing a ball to be bothered with a possible wardrobe malfunction. This exchange went on at least eight more times. Finally I physically stopped the boy.

"Isaac, look." I pointed to his pants. He finally looked down to see the back pockets of his blue jeans where a zipper should have been.

"I meant to do that," he said with a shrug of his shoulders, and continued after his ball.

We often assume success or failure are objective categories, but in truth they are defined by the questions we ask. For example, when I put on a pair of pants, I ask, "Am I wearing these pants correctly?" ...

From Issue:Spring 2014: The Upside of Failure
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