Sometimes kids understand better than you think

  • Saturday, March 22, 2014

I told y'all last week about how my whole life has been on hold as I finish my next book. It's been hard to juggle everything that needs to get done: buying groceries, cooking meals, car pool, gymnastics, writing, cleaning the house, making eye contact with my family members – but I've been doing the best I can. And I haven't done any of it alone.

Zebulicious lends a hand whenever and however he can, whether it's cooking dinner, going to the grocery store, or working on school projects with the girls. Shuggie, my mother, came to town to take over the kitchen: buying groceries, cooking meals and cleaning up afterward. I have the best house cleaner in the entire universe who comes once a week to keep DHR from taking my kids out of a pit of squalor. And my babysitter Madeliene, runs errands for me: mailing out books, taking the girls to get school supplies and running carpool to give me two hours extra to work everyday.

I have an army of amazing helpers but none of them can do my most important job: being “The Momma.” Several weeks ago, on a Saturday, Aubrey snuggled up to me just as I was sitting down to write and said she really felt like she needed some “Momma and Aubrey time.” It wasn't easy to close my computer, but I did.

We snuck out of the house, ran by Sonic for a drink and went to run some errands. I had some clothes I needed to return, so while we were in the store, we swung over to Aubrey's department to see what they had. We picked up a few skirts and dresses and headed to the dressing room.

I had to help Aubrey squeeze size eights over her head and all of her skirts were too short.

“I don't know why all of these eights are so small,” I wondered outloud.

“Um… Mom? You know I'm nine, right?”

I paused for a minute and did some quick math – not only was she nine – she's almost 10!

“Wow. Not sure how I missed that. I guess you need 10s!”

We left the store with a few new outfits for her and decided to get our nails done. She giggled as we shimmied in the massage chairs and we were both happy and relaxed as we drove home.

This past Saturday, Aubrey said, “I'm so bored. Can we do something?”

“What do you want to do?”

“Like go to a museum or something?”

I told her to get dressed and the two of us slipped away to Indianola, Miss. to the B.B. King Museum. She'd never been there before and I explained who B.B. King is to her on the drive over. We watched the 20-minute introductory video and began making our way through the museum.

Aubrey's learned a little about civil rights at school, but we tend to gloss over the ugliest parts. Her eyes teared up when she learned of B.B.'s mother and grandmother's deaths while he was young. Her mouth hung slack as I explained Jim Crow laws. She was horrified as I explained the story of Emmett Till who was murdered less than ten miles from our own house at the age of 14 for whistling at a white woman. And tears rolled down her cheeks as she watched a short clip of video footage of African-Americans being hosed by policemen in Birmingham.

We watched footage of B.B.'s first concert in front of an all-white crowd, filmed in Berkley, Calif. in the late 1960s and she clapped as the audience rose to give B.B. a standing ovation as he took the stage with tears pouring down his face.

I wondered if she was getting too much information as we walked through the museum, but as we talked things over afterward, I was glad we had been there. She told me how she felt, how stupid and senseless that kind of hatred is and expressed gratitude that things had changed for the better. When I told my friend, Jodi, that I was taking the day off to hang with Aubrey she texted me, “There will be plenty of writing days, but there are only a few little girl days left.” She was right.

If we want the next generation to be the catalyst for great change, we have to spend time with them. We must look them in the eye and learn who they are. We must look them in the eye and tell them about their past. We must give them our undivided attention and the honesty required to be able to pass the torch to them one day, and trust that they will continue to make this world better.


Robin O'Bryant is an author, humorist and speaker. Her latest book is “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.”

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