Mona Lisa and Me

Me at 3
Me at 3

“No matter where you go in the room, Mona Lisa will be looking right at you.”

I remember wondering how that could be possible as I listened to my Godfather talk about a picture that was on display in his living room.

Believe me when I tell you that I was NOT convinced that the lady pictured could do that. So, I tested his assertion. I mean I went to every corner of that room to try that thing out and, sure enough, Mona Lisa continued to look at me- no matter where I went.

I should’ve known he was right.

By the way, my Godmother, who looked like a beautiful Black Betty White, loved laughing at my Godfather as he carried on this sort of ‘grown up’ conversation with three year old me.  Best believe that there was nothing that he could ask me or tell me about that I didn’t have a quick response or answer for; well except for the Mona Lisa thing.  And to be honest, when all else failed, I’d just dip into my vivid imagination and make something up!

Making stuff up is a child’s prerogative isn’t it?

Who knew that my Godfather was teaching me to become a creative communicator 😉

At any rate, during visits with my Godparents, I loved watching and listening to my Godfather play jazz tunes ‘by ear.’  From what I understand, he and his sister were raised in a household that placed a high value on education.  In fact, his sister, who was highly intelligent, went on to become a professor at a prestigious American University.  One of the things that I remember most about her was the love that she had for her dear poodle, Zora.

By the way, you are correct if you guessed that her dog was named for Zora Neale Hurston, the Black novelist, folklorist and anthropologist.

Well to me, at that time, “Zora” meant nothing more than small, yappy, white poodle-period.

Anyway, while my Godfather challenged my intellect, my Godmother, who was a nurse, but had the skills and knowledge of today’s Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant, kept close watch on my physical wellbeing. To be frank, she had been doing so prior to my Earthly debut.  In essence, she handpicked my mother’s OB/Gyn and my Pediatrician; both of whom were top-flight. All in all, she took my parents under her wing the minute they arrived in Augusta. So it was only natural that she and her husband would become my Godparents.

By now you are probably wondering why I have coerced you into accompanying me on a promenade down the streets of my memories. In other words, what is the point of this post?

Well I am glad that you asked!  So here we go!

The purpose of this post is to encourage you to pour into the lives of young children -much like my Godparents did for me. Realize that this does NOT have to cost you anything but a little bit of time.

Here are a couple of suggestions as to how you might do this:

Take a child to the public library and show them the process of finding and checking out a book.  Then, read to them.  You might also take them to free events that introduce them to different cultures.  Look for museum specials so that you can also introduce them to the arts.

Teach a child how to prepare your favorite simple dishes like salads and sandwiches. If they are older, you might show them how to use the stove to prepare a cooked meal.

Allow a child to accompany you to the bank, store or any other place where you take care of business.  While there, explain to them what a checking/ savings account is and allow them to watch you conduct a transaction like making a deposit or cashing a check.  If you are fully automated in the banking realm, show them how online transactions work.  Likewise, take them to a grocery store and show them how to select food items and how to pay for them.

Talk to them about money; specifically, about how it is earned, invested, spent, donated and saved.

Allow a child to watch you as you engage in a favorite pastime or routine activity. Help them to research activities that they may be interested in learning how to do.

To be honest, you can apply all of the suggestions above to any person that would benefit from that knowledge.  Get creative about sharing your skills, abilities and knowledge with others. Remember, you can adjust any of my suggestions in order to make them age appropriate.

Now, before I go, I’d like to have a word with anyone who has been named the Godparent of a child:

Godparents, take your job seriously!  Feel free to use my suggestions.  Please don’t think that you are functioning as a proper Godparent if your only involvement in your Godchild’s life is taking them to get a hamburger and a T-Shirt once a year. And for those of you who simply flaunt the title “Godparent” while adding NO value to the child’s life, I would like to challenge you to step up your game in a major way!

Lady G, is now stepping down from the soapbox!

Honestly, I thank God everyday for my Godparents; especially my Godmother who continued to watch over me through my high school years.  I also thank God for my daughter’s Godparents who have always been so very loving, kind and generous to her and my family.  They remind me so much of my own Godparents.

May God always bless and keep these four souls for all the days of their lives; even until the end of time.

Friends, I also urge you to take time to think about and remember the adults who poured into you when you were a child.  Challenge yourselves to pay it back and forward.

NOT Rocket Science

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Trust me, you can relax because, as the title indicates, I am NOT about to discuss the trajectory of a spaceship.  Nor will I be writing an epistle on the various applications of Einstein’s equations.

Did I just sense a collective sigh of relief?

However, I am going to share three experiences that I believe perfectly illustrate some glaring deficiencies in the knowledge base of some of our young people.

Now, before I start, let me clarify that this post is not meant to place all blame on teachers and in the interest of self -disclosure, let me admit that each of my paternal aunts were educators.

Back to my point.

I honestly think that weaknesses in our children’s educational backgrounds are due to several negative social, political and economic factors that have converged to formulate a clusterf*ck of sorts.

Uhh, enough with the pontification! Read these experiences so you’ll understand what I mean:

Experience 1

Several months ago, my friend, who taught Advanced Spanish at a local high school, was testing her students on the subject of ‘Time.’  During the test, she moved the hands on a clock to indicate various times of day. She then asked the students to write, in Spanish, the time that was displayed. Seventeen of the twenty students failed the test.

But not for the reason that you are thinking.

The fact of the matter is that seventeen students failed the test because they had no idea how to tell time on a non-digital clock. The Principal made my friend re-administer the test using images from a digital clock.  Needless to say, the pass rate greatly improved.

Unfortunately, the Principal NEVER even acknowledged the fact that the students could only tell time on a digital clock.

Now my question to you is twofold:  What time is it and does anybody really know what time it is?

You’ll have to forgive me for throwing in two musical references but it’s what I do 🙂

Experience 2

I went to Arby’s on yesterday to grab some dinner for me and my daughter.  The total cost of our food was $11.31.  I did not want to use my debit or credit cards so I handed the cashier five ones and a five dollar bill.  After that, I handed her four quarters.  Finally, I handed her an additional quarter, one nickel and a penny.  Y’all that’s $11.31 all day long!

Clearly, I was trying to get rid of some change.

Anyway, after the cashier disappeared from the drive-thru window, I heard what sounded like a whole lot of change being feverishly moved around.  Honestly, it sounded like a rat had gotten into the cash drawer.

Before long, and to my surprise, the young cashier returned to the window and handed me several coins-along with a receipt.  I immediately said, “Oh you don’t owe me any money, I gave you the exact amount, the total was $11.31 –correct?”

She said, “No m’am it was $11.40.”  She then handed me my food.

Well, I smiled politely and drove off–still feeling a bit confused.  I mean if the total due was $11.40 then she certainly didn’t owe me any change, in fact, I owed her.

Ok, now I’m befuddled as hell!  So when I got home, I checked the receipt.  Guess what? the total was, indeed, $11.31 but the amount tendered was entered as  $11.40 so the change shown was $0.09.

Our dear cashier thought that a quarter, a nickel and a penny was $0.40.

Y’all it ain’t no cash register or computer in the world that could have helped this poor baby.  Honestly, I felt so sorry for her.

Experience 3

In the words of my wise cousin Ron, there is no need to split a hair that doesn’t need to be split.

Now watch me split this one anyway 😉

OK, so recently I went to the deli at Publix  to get 3 pounds of smoked turkey.  The young man working the counter was quite nice; we had a lovely little chat while he sliced my turkey.  Just as he was finishing up, he said, “Ma’am, this is gon’ be too much meat to put in one bag so Imma need to split it up.”

I said, “OK, that’ll be perfect.”

The young man then proceeded to divide the meat into 3 portions; placing each portion into 3 separate bags.  He then went on to say, “Ok here go your first half, here go your second half and here go your third half.”

Y’all, somehow that just didn’t sound right to me.  LOL!

Alright, I realize that many of you probably laughed at a couple of these ‘experiences.’  But, seriously, if you are a parent, grandparent or if you have a direct vested interest in a child’s education, you might want to pay closer attention to what is going on at the schoolhouse.

Remember, the students of today will be the doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, police officers, paramedics, engineers, air traffic control/pilots, truck drivers and politicians of tomorrow.

Don’t you want them to be well prepared?