By Bea Joyner
NOTE: This story is adapted from my book, “Don’t Need No Soaps, My Life Is Soap Enough!” With the school year approaching, I thought it would be helpful to parents (because it does take a village to raise a child!) to share my experience with my son Askari, who thought at an early age, he was smarter than his mother!
Have you noticed that the name you gave your child at birth is not always the one that remains with them for their lifetime? I think it’s because their real attributes and personality come out later. Take Askari, his new name is now Slick Rick, indicating that I have a hustler in the making. If I’m not careful, he can talk, whine or beg his way out of many things. I have to be constantly on my guard.
When Askari was in kindergarten, he came to me one day and said he needed some money. “For what?” I asked. His sister, Jamilah, yelled out “He wants to buy his girl friend some jewelry!” I politely told him when he was ready to buy jewelry for his girl friend; he would use his own money and not mine. Then I asked the important question, who was she? It turns out it was a first grader. I mean the kid wasn’t even in real school yet and here he is trying to buy gifts for girls!
Askari recently came home with a spelling test paper with a score of ninety. I congratulated him and began to encourage him to get a hundred next time. He started grinning and said “Nope, next time I’ll get a ninety-five and the time after that, a hundred.” Now, I know Askari is capable of getting a hundred on a spelling test. So, I asked him why wouldn’t he do so? He grinned and said, “Because if I don’t and wait two more tests, I can get a homework pass. (A homework pass allows you not to do homework for a day.) He had figured out how to beat the grading system by not getting a hundred right away. Three improvements were worth more. Of course, I had to tell his teacher. As soon as I started explaining, she understood. Slick Rick!
Askari was off from school one day so one of my girl friends agreed to keep him. I told him to take a couple of videos with him to keep him occupied. When I called my girl friend later to check on him, she had a question. She wanted to know if I allowed Askari to watch “Blazing Saddles.” I said no, it’s rated “R” and I didn’t allow him or Jamilah to watch “R” rated movies. They were only allowed to watch age appropriate movies. But Slick Rick struck again! He knows I bought the video for me and I forgot to check his bag to see what video he had chosen. He told my girl friend when she questioned him about it, “I’ve watched it before.” Of course, he said it very innocently while batting his baby browns (eyes). You have to watch out for that; he bats them very well! Yes, he had watched it before but without my permission.
Later on Askari started singing the “I’m Tired” song from the movie. The character that sings the song is mimicking Marlena Dietrich as a “Hussy.” That would be all I needed. I could envision getting a call from the nuns at his school about him singing the song. Actually, I guess it’s not half as bad or graphic as some of the songs on the radio these days but I don’t want to have to explain them either.
Bea Joyner, CEO of Busy As A Bee Productions provides “Parenting Parties”—seminars through the Philadelphia School District and others. She believes the optimum question to ask a parent is “Would you want your child to make decisions about your health care or nursing home?” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org