Thursday, February 2, 2017

To the Bus with Alicia Ann, and my first SJW encounter (sort of)

This morning at 7:00 AM, I'm walking Alicia Ann to the bus stop on the corner. This is something I'm doing for me, not for her; I have a goal of taking 8,000 steps each day, and a bus stop visit is worth around 800 steps.

I will walk Kenneth to the bus stop at 8:30, which is about ten minutes from now. That's 1 1/2 hours between send-offs. Friend Cedar   has the same issue. Oh, for the bygone days of yore, when we tossed everybody out at the same time!
Alicia Ann is a speed walker. She has ALWAYS been a speed walker. And since she's gotten so tall, her speed walking moves her rapidly ahead of me, with my longer, but slower steps. Asking her to slow down? Nope. Doesn't work. She just...zooms. I DON'T think it's because she doesn't want to walk with me; it's just... her pace.

She has an uncle Michael, an aunt Elizabeth, and a first cousin Esan, who were all track stars in high school, to the point that college scholarships were a reality. And she has ALWAYS beaten Kenneth, who is 18 months her senior, since the first time they raced for me five 1/2 years ago.

So, I called out to her rapidly moving back, "you ought to go out for track! You could be a Speed Racer! Go, Speed Racer, Go! Do you want to be a Speed Racer?"

She slowed, briefly. "I guess."

That's a long conversation for her in the morning, when she is not in chatter-box mode.

But she DID slow down, for about a second, and then she saw the bus coming, and so I yelled out my final instructions:

"Don't fall down! Don't have any fun! Don't talk to your friends! Don't do what the teacher says! Don't steal anybody's watermelons!"

These instructions, except for the first and the last, were first formulated in 1986, when I was dropping my three-year old first-born son off at the daycare center. He could cop quite an attitude on some mornings (this was before I instituted the no-stress plan), and he was fond of grumping that he was NOT going to have any fun. So, instead of leaving him with "Have fun!", I gave him the unexpected "Don't have any fun," along with the no-talk-to-friends, don't do what the teacher says.

It worked: he smiled. And, every day after, when I picked him up at school, I would ask him"

"You didn't have fun, did you?"
"Yes, I did it anyway?"
"You didn't talk to your friends, did you?"
  "I did it anyway!"
"You didn't do what the teacher said, did you?"

And we had a great time. Smiled all the way home, riding on the motorcycle in the North Carolina sun.

And then I had the encounter with my first, sort of, SJW: the head of the daycare center.

When I picked him up one day, she asked me to step into her office. She then proceeded to give me a rambling, incoherent speech about men not taking instruction from women, and I had no frappen idea what she was talking about. First thought: the boy had been acting up. So I call him over, and ask him if he had disobeyed his teacher. He innocently reported his innocence; nobody does innocence better than an innocent three year old, except maybe a guilty three year old.

Then the light bulb went 'BOING!' and I understood. Someone had overheard my morning instructions, and reported them. And the director thought I was a male supremacist (well, I might be, but not in that case). Back then, we called them 'male chauvinist pigs,' and that's what the director believed.

I did, of course, explain the situation to her, and apologized for the confusion, but it just wasn't convincing her. It didn't really matter, in that case. My kid still was able to go to the school, and he still did what he was supposed to do, and he got along great with his teachers and his pals. And I never had to deal with the director again; I think we avoided each other.

So, that's why, 31 years later, I still send off Alicia and Kenneth with the middle three nonsense statements. The first and last instructions? They were added much later by my daughter. When she left for school, she had to give me instructions as well. So, she told me not to fall down, which is a meaningful instruction to a kindergarten student; she was just wanting Papa to be safe. I think I added the last instruction, about watermelons, with the Moose, my youngest bio child.

Everybody needs someone to look out for them in the morning.

Happy Groundhog Day, and remember tomorrow is RED Friday. Wear RED, Remember Everyone Deployed, until they all come home.


  1. Everyone does need someone to look out for us in the morning. As a single parent for a time that was the hardest thing, not having someone looking out for me! Now, my husband makes sure I don't sleep through my alarm (and I do the same for him), which is lovely. Because then I can get up and make sure the kids are up, and dressed, and have lunches.

  2. What a great idea. Except for the incoherent rant part you were subjected to - you'd think other people could tell by your tone of voice what you were doing, especially if it was another parent, but, as we say in Spanish, 'De todo hay en la viña del Señor,' literally, 'There are all kinds in the Lord's vineyards.'

    I sometimes wonder, for a generation which insists on texting almost exclusively, whether they will lose nuance. Having to add emoticons to everything you say gets wearisome.

  3. And...totally on another topic, on my favorite news forum this morning (Timebomb2000, if anyone is curious, LOL!), there has been a discussion about both Southern accents and colloquialisms, and the origin of the term 'redneck.' It's not what I thought it was!