Sitting here having random thoughts, and this came to mind: The first whipping I ever received was from my grandmother, Christine Avery. It was in December of 1972. I was five. Sometime earlier, I had learned to write my name, and everyone thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.
“Carla can write her name.” “She’s so smart.” Those were two of the phrases that sang throughout the house on a regular basis. I was the only child, the only grandchild, the only niece, and the apple of everyone’s eye. Just when I thought I had these people in the palm of my hand, I looked up and there it was. Someone had brought a baby into the house.
Who was it? Where did it come from? Why was it here? And most imporantly, when was it leaving? All of a sudden, I was no longer the center of attention. My Aunt Jenry had brought this little person into the house and it took away my focus, my glory. I didn’t see what the big deal was. It just laid there. It couldn’t talk like I could, it couldn’t sing like I could, and it definately couldn’t write it’s name like I could. What was the big deal?
I found out later that the baby’s name was LaDonna, she was my new little cousin, and she was here to stay. Excuse me, what’s a cousin? I asked for a doll for Christmas, not a cousin. Can you take it back and exchange it for a doll?
To remind everyone that I was still there, I wrote my name as big as I could on the hallway wall with a blue crayon. Now mind you, just a few weeks earlier, I had written my name, and it was the best thing since sliced bread, but now everyone was upset, especially my grandmother. She got a house shoe and whipped me! That was the first whipping that I had ever gotten from my granny. I had been threatened with the promise that I would get a whipping if I didn’t behave, but she had never followed through with that threat.
As the years went by, LaDonna became the cause of many more whippings for me at the hands of my grandmother. Donna got whippings too, but I was always first, and when it was Donna’s turn, my granny was always out of steam and Donna got off with just a few pops. Ha! Don’t get me started on LaDonna Avery! The stories I could tell! Anyway just a random stroll down memory lane. I love you, LaDonna! I couldn’t say that back in 1972 when we first met, but today, I think you’re the bomb!
I am not immune to the world of on-line dating. I’ve been swiping to the left for a few months now. With that being said, I’d been communicating with a gentleman that I met on-line. We’d text a few times, talked and laughed a few times on the phone, then the inevitable happened. He started inquiring as to when we were going to meet. I have to confess that I was cool with just phone communication. I didn’t feel the need to meet. I mean, I’m golden on the phone, but in person….well, in person I lag sometimes….I know, right!
He and I decided to meet at Pappasito’s Cantina because I just love Mexican food. Although, all I ever order is beef enchiladas. I got there first (or so I thought) and got us a table. “Will someone be joining you?” asked Victor, my waiter. “Maybe. I don’t know” was my reply. I proceeded to place my drink order and eat chips and salsa. The phone rings, and it’s my lunch companion. “Are we still meeting today?” he asked. “Yes?” I answered questioningly because I’m thinking: Why are you asking me that when I’m already sitting here? If he was getting ready to give me some excuse to back out of the meeting, I was going to be okay with that and continue with my order. “Cool!” was his response. He said some other things, but I don’t remember because I was really into my chips and salsa. Did I mention that I love Mexican food? (I even thought I was Mexican for a while, but that’s another story.) The next thing I remember hearing was, “Why are you looking at me like that?”
I had found myself staring at this guy walking into the restaurant. He was short and stocky, dark complexion, wearing white shorts (I guess they were shorts. They went all the way to his ankles. Are those shorts or capris?), a light orange & white shirt, orange tennis shoes, and a black baseball hat. He had the phone to his ear, looking at me with a big Kool-Aid grin, and walking to my table. Yelp! That was my lunch companion! I greeted him with a smile and a hug. That’s what we do in the South—smile and hug.
I don’t write people off because of their looks, and I hope I’m not written off because of my looks. I know I’m not a beauty queen, but I’m not scratching fleas from behind my ears with my hind legs either. With that being said, he looked how he looked. It was not lust at first sight…not on my part anyway. He wasn’t tall. He wasn’t masculine. He wasn’t handsome (to my eyes). He wasn’t really my type. He was however dark, and if you know me, you know I like dark-skinned men. But I was willing to give him a chance. After all, we’d had some fun phone conversations.
“I saw you when you got out of the car. I was hoping that you was you.” He said.
“So, you were watching me walk through the parking lot?” I asked.
He grinned and shoved a salsa-covered chip in his mouth.
Lunch was delicious! Pappasita’s never disappoints me. I just love Mexican food. We talked some—not as much as we had done over the phone. He laughed a lot. I think it was a nervous laugh because nothing I said was funny. I don’t really remember the conversations. I remember the food more than I remember what we talked about.
But there was one thing that he said, and I felt some kind of way about it. He said that he had told his daughter about me and that there may be something there. Excuse me! You told who what? Let me decipher that. You told your daughter that there may be something between you and me? Wait a minute, let me see if I got this straight. As far as a relationship, you told your daughter that there may be something between you and me? Why? Why would you do that?
Dude, in your on-line profile, you wrote that you were looking for friendship, someone to hang out with. Now you’re telling people—no, now you’re telling your daughter—that there may be something there. For real? Come on, Man!
I was not happy with him thinking that because I’d done nothing to lead him to that conclusion and the fact that he told others—no, his daughter—that there may be something there was crazy to me. For real? You had never met me, Man! You only talked to me a few times, Man! Based off that, what would make you think I want a relationship with you, Man? I told you, I felt some kind of way about that comment which in turn made me feel some kind of way about him.
We finished our lunch with minimum conversation on my part. I didn’t want to hear his voice—I just didn’t. I remained pleasant but the winds had shifted—and he knew it.
When we waked out of the restaurant, he was in front of me. He held out his hand behind him as if I was supposed to hold it. (I laughed to myself and ignored that gesture.) He walked me to my car and made some comment about going to the beach with his kids. I wondered why he was going to the beach with grown kids. It’s not like his kids were little. Was he trying to tell me what I would be missing out on? Really? Galveston? (Again, I laughed to myself.)
Me: Can I watch TV with you and eat my chips and dip in your bed?
Madea: Yeah. You’re not a baby. You’re not going to make a mess. Come on!
(Of course, I spilled salsa. Guess I’ll be changing sheets in the morning.)
Madea: You’re hair sure is gray.
Me: *blank stare*
Madea: How old are you?
Madea: You don’t look 45. I guess black don’t crack. (lol)
Me: (lol) What?
Madea: How old is your mother?
Me: I don’t know. I think she’s been lying ever since I met her.
Madea: (lol) She dyes her hair, don’t she.
Me: (lol) Every week!
Madea: (lol) Not me. I’m just gonna let it be gray. When I came out of the hospital, my hair was snow white. So I said oh well, it’s just gonna be snow white.
Me: No, I’m not dying my hair either. I can’t afford it. (lol)
Madea: Where did you get that long hair from?
Me: I got it from my mama.
Madea: No, you didn’t! You got it from the McCraws. All of my girls have long hair.
Me. You mean, HAD.
Madea: Well, they were born with long hair. What they’ve done since birth, I don’t know. (lol)
Madea: Yeah, I’m letting mine grow.
Me: Me too.
Madea: Yours is already long. And gray. (lol)
Me: Why are you so fascinated with my gray hair?
Madea: I’m not! I just remember when you were a baby and now you’re 45…with gray hair. (lol)
Me: *blank stare*
Madea: What’s that noise?
Me: Rain and thunder.
Madea: It’s still raining?
Me: I think so. It’s not raining as hard as it was earlier. I think it’s just drizzling.
Madea: Where’s Buddy?
Me: Oh, he left.
Madea: Oh, he left? When?
Me. I don’t know. Pretty much after he put you to bed, I guess.
Madea: Where’d he go?
Me: I don’t know. Walking?
Madea: *side eye* In the rain?
Me: I don’t know. He said, “I’m gone.” I said, “Okay.” You know I don’t ask questions.
Madea: Is that Frank coming though the door?
Me: If you ever see Frank Jr or Frank Sr coming through any door in this house, let me know so I can get out of here! (lol)
Madea: (lol) I mean Buddy.
Me: No, you must be hearing rain. The alarm is still on. No one is here but you and me.
Madea: Oh, okay. Tomorrow I want you to take down my high heel shoes from the closet so I can try them on.
Me: *blank stare* Okay. You wanna play shoe store? I’m the girl for the job!
Madea: I know you are! You have on a different pair of shoes every day and a dress to match.
Me: I know, right! If you wear the same shoes everyday, you need to examine your life and make some changes. I’m just saying. (lol)
Madea: Go get me five grapes.
Me: Five grapes?
Madea: MY grapes!
Me: (lol) Oh. Why?
Madea: You’re eating chips & dip. I can eat grapes.
Me: How you gonna eat grapes with no teeth?
Madea: (lol) Go get my teeth and then go get my grapes.
Madea: Your mama took those grapes when she left, didn’t she.
Me: Yes, ma’am, she did. She took the grapes, the strawberries, the blueberries, the orange juice, the spaghetti, the salad, and the salad dressing. Everything she walked in here with, she walked out with. (lol)
Madea: (lol) I say!
(I was situated in the bed with my snacks. I really didn’t feel like getting up to get grapes
or teeth, so I changed the subject and hoped she would forget about it.)
Me: Madea, remember when you left me home alone?
Madea: *blank stare*
Me: Remember when you used to babysit me? You went shopping and forgot I was in the back room and you left me. Oh, but you took Tika!
Madea: *blank stare* (lol) You were always in Yolanda’s room, messing with her stuff. You were always so quiet, I forgot you were there. (lol) And when you in other people’s stuff, you extra quiet.
Me: I remember Yolanda banned me from her room. How you gone ban me from a bedroom with no door? (lol) Please! I spent the whole summer trying on every article of clothing she had including her big ole bras. (lol)
Me: I would read her diary and everything.
Madea: You did? What it say?
Me: It was so boring, I don’t remember. (lol) I kept waiting for her to do something exciting so I could read about it, but it never happened. (lol) Then when it was time for her to come home, I would put everything back like it was and sit on the couch like I had been there all day.
Madea: (lol) But she knew…cause I told her. (lol)
Me: You ratted me out?
Madea: (lol) Yeah! (lol) That was funny. Now, go get my grapes and my teeth.
Me: *blank stare* Yes, ma’am.
Madea: These grapes are not as sweet as the ones your mama brought.
Madea: Here, put my teeth back.
Me: Yes, ma’am. Who’s coming over in the morning?
Madea: What’s tomorrow?
Madea: Linda, Brenda, Yolanda. I don’t know. Ask Buddy.
Me: He’s not here, remember?
Madea: *side eye* Oh yeah, he’s out walking. In the rain. (lol)
Madea: Just whoever shows up, I guess.
Me: Cool, it will be a surprise. Especially if no body shows up. (lol)
Madea: With all those kids and grandkids, somebody will show up.
Me: If not, Uncle Buddy will be here.
Madea: Yep. If he shows up from walking in the rain. (lol) You going to church in the morning?
Me: Yes, ma’am.
Madea: Don’t forgot to pray for me.
Me: I won’t forget.
Madea: How’s Earl?
Me: *blank stare* Who?
Me: Earl Campbell from the Houston Oilers?
Madea: What? EARL!
Me: I don’t know who that is.
Madea: You know Earl. He was married and his wife remarried a white man and they go to Lakewood.
Me: *blank stare* Who?
Me: *blank stare* Oh! You mean Earl and Shirley!?
Madea: Yeah, Earl and Shirley.
Me: Well, Earl died a couple of years ago. I don’t know if he had been sick or if he passed suddenly, but it’s been a couple of years since his death.
Madea: Oh. Earl died?
Me: Yes, ma’am. But Shirley and her new husband, I think he’s Hispanic, are fine. They go to Lakewood.
Madea: How are her babies?
Me: Her babies have babies! They are fine too. What made you think of Earl?
Madea: I don’t know. We used to go to Rev. Dunn’s church together. That was many years ago, but I remember.
Me: Oh. Well the next time I see Shirley, I will be sure to tell her that you asked about her and the kids.
Madea: *big smile* Okay
Me: Alright, Madea, it’s late and I’m tired. Guess I’ll go to bed now.
Madea: Me too. See you in the morning. Love you.
Me: Love you too.
As I turn off the light and head to my room, I smile. This lady is hilarious! And I know that I am truly blessed to be able to spend this time with my grandmother.
About 10 years ago, I had a student to come to a school dance where I was working the front door. We greeted one anther with the usual pleasantries, then he went on to tell me that because of me, he was making A’s in English, and he just wanted to say, “Thank you.” I was pleased to hear it. No one had ever came back to say, “Thank you, Ms. McCraw.” Needless to say, he got in the dance for free that day.
As you know I teach 6-8 grade English in a Catholic school in Spring, Tx (a suburb outside of Houston, Tx). This year I’ve had a record number of former students (9th graders) come back to say, “Thank you, Mrs. McCraw. It’s because of what you taught me in English that I am sailing through the 9th grade.”
A few weeks ago, we had Meet the Teacher night. We have several students who just graduated but have younger siblings at the school, so when their parents came to Meet the Teacher night, our former students came to. They had on their new school uniforms, and they looked so nice! I was only used to seeing them in our school uniform, so they looked so different to me in something other than blue and khaki.
They were all so excited, which made me excited. They went on about how they miss the school and the teachers and how everything they are doing in 9th grade English, they’ve already done in 8th grade English. A few of them said that they are the only ones in their class who know how to diagram sentences. Some said that when the teacher asked them to list as many prepositions as they could, they started singing the preposition song and was able to list them all. (Don’t thank me for that one, thank YouTube.) A few even said that they’ve already had to turn in an essay where they passed with flying colors. I got “thank yous” all night from former students and their parents. I’m not sure what they expected from 9th grade, I mean grammar is grammar, right? Diagramming is diagramming. Book reports are book reports. Maybe. Maybe not.
Each teacher is of course different, and each teacher brings to the classroom a certain “swag” if you will. I teach grammar. Everyday, I. Teach. Grammar. In Room 30, we write sentences, we diagram sentences. We study punctuation and types of sentences. We write book reports, we write essays. Everyday we practice our skills.
I am very proud of my students (former and current). I was glad to hear that they were confident in their new class and well prepared. To my former students, “You’re welcome!”
It may be another 10 years before someone else says, “Thank you, Ms. McCraw.” I’ll wait.
A year ago I became a member of a very prestigious sorority, and this weekend, I am celebrating a special anniversary with some very special ladies. To begin the celebration, I checked into the Hilton Hotel NASA on Friday for a staycation—my very first. The hotel was, of course, marvelous. You wouldn’t expect anything less from Hilton Hotel, right? Friday’s OOTD was a lime green lace dress (lace dresses are in this season) with pink pearl sandals and pink pearl accessories. I was working a pearl and lace theme.
The ladies and I met at Hermann Park’s newest destination, Davis St. Hermann Park, where we ate, drank, talked, and laughed. In a nutshell, we had a blast! Davis St. was the perfect restaurant for us to kick back and enjoy.
When I told my 6th grade students that we were going to begin a unit on letter writing, I was met with a lot of moans and groans. One student even said, “We don’t write letters, we text.” Well that may be true, but for the next week, they will be writing letters–friendly letters. (It’s in my curriculum, and I made a lesson plan for it, so it’s a done deal, y’all! They’re writing letters!)
I give them a topic, and they decide to whom they’d like to write. Along with the letter, they have to correctly address an envelope. They have a lot to say. Some of them are even funny. I think they enjoy letter writing. Who knew?
Their uproar made me think about today’s kids. There are many things they are growing up without. Things that my generation had and was happy to have it. One of those things is cursive writing. I couldn’t wait to write in cursive and with a pen! Today, my 6th graders come in with a pencil and everyday they ask if they are supposed to use a pencil or a pen. Everyday I remind them that this is not math class, and they need a pen–blue or black. I used to only accept blue pens, but I have since given up that battle. They also ask–everyday–if they should write in print or cursive. While I prefer cursive, they don’t always come to me knowing how to write in cursive, and since I am not the handwriting teacher, I accept print. At this point, I just need to be able to read what they are writing, so my everyday answer is, “Cursive or print–whichever you do neater.”