Teachable Moments

This old man and this old woman, they played knick knack on my drum this weekend. And with the knick knack, they paddy whacked me. So much so, I ended up without a bone! I had to settle for a measly nanosecond of an opportunity to rise up; to beat my drums the way I was taught by Mama. African-style with rhythm and flair in remembrance of Bibi's [grandma's] teachings.

This old man and this old woman, played knick knack on my drum this weekend, in Greenville, South Carolina, whose State motto incidentally, is the Latin proverb, Dum Spiro Spero, "While I breathe, I hope."

It was our first visit to the city; our kitindamimba [last born] was playing in an elite youth soccer tournament. And play well he did; he turned it on, gave his team the striker mmpphh! they needed up front, for four convincing wins and a terrific Final Championship game. Kudos to the boys for winning, through the rain!

The rain was like a dance, this weekend. It came and went, and except for the duration of one half of a match, it was sporadic enough; it rained after the matches, and during breaks, as we did some sightseeing around town.

It was on one of those breaks that I was rendered boneless. We had just deposited hubby at a free Wi-Fi location, a Barnes and Noble, so he could catch up on the English Premier League matches online; Chidi and I headed out to see some sights. It was not long before we came upon two odd-looking old geezers. There they were, off the main thoroughfare, on the corner of Woodruff Road; where the City has done its finest to display Greenville’s beauty and Southern charm. And standing facing growing traffic, consisting mostly out-of-towners (we could tell by license plates) those ancients bore all their paraphernalia.

A stroller, a baby Bjorn and a few baby dolls; they stuck out like flags of heritage. The old man and the old woman, their stance was warlike; their placards, disturbing - STOP ABORTION, NOW!!! – they shouted. The old woman advanced with her double stroller, complete with two dolls, one white, one black. The old man marched, wearing the bi-racial baby on his chest.

A car honked several times, in support, it had South Carolina license plates.

"What is abortion, mom?"

And that was when I had a measly nanosecond of an opportunity to rise up; to beat my drums the way I was taught by Mama: African-style with rhythm and flair in remembrance of Bibi's [grandma's] teachings. To educate my eleven-year-old in his first ever question to me, on the body, the matter and its environs.

What did I do? I did not dance, or drop some bones as brother man and I loved to say on the dance floor, when the beat was in sync with our senses. Instead, I skidded around the body of the matter, sucked my teeth at the old man and the old woman, wondered what in goodness sake possessed them come out on this touristy weekend and express their contentious views?!

The series of sputtering that emitted from my lips were not the nice lucid, well-orchestrated ngoma [dance] that I had heretofore envisioned. And upon our return to Barnes and Noble, I did not steer him to age-appropriate books to discuss the matter further. I was caught off guard. The teachable moment had come and gone.

Now, I’ll have to wait for that nice letter from the principal requesting permission to teach my son Health Education.

Jamani! [gosh]

Mama Shujaa.


  1. Yeah, your back to blogging! So you have been distracted by soccer too. Congratulations to your son!

    The nice thing about being a parent is that there will always be more teachable moments. It’s a conversation– the drums will beat on. I love the humor and the candor of your posts.

  2. Mama S,

    I love the pace and suspense in this piece of writing. I could picture the scene and almost imagine myself, with a child or two in tow, following closely behind you. What will she say? What would I say?

    Your posts are pure poetry.



  3. African American girl who is very offended for being called kenyan!!! http://fromemaliwithlove.blogspot.com/

  4. Mama S-

    You always write so articulate!!! I enjoy experiencing your experiences and I agree with what one of your fellow readers stated - you still have many opportunities to speak with your son about the body and life. Keep up the great writing!!!!

  5. im torn between laughing at you or sympathizing, at least i am nine years away from undergoing the same experience!

  6. Another absolutely wonderful read. He he. How to explain the A word!

    The understanding between mother and son is always the best of understandings. Kudos for always trying.

  7. Lovely snippet of your life. And if your hubby pays good attention to the English Premier League he will know that the mighty Chelsea (yes, that's my team!) are still top of the table. Hopefully this will be our year. Can the Yankees do it this year, too? That would be nice.

    Greetings from London.

  8. Sarah, Moto Mama, Rose-Anne, ANairobian, Our Kid: I really do look forward to the next opportunity to continue that conversation with my son and thanks for your thoughts.

    ACIL: Hubby is a DIE HARD Chelsea fan, you have something in common. When it comes to baseball, he is a fairweather kinda guy. 10-15 years ago, he was a bigtime Mets fan, when Gooden and Strawberry were at the top of their game. These days he enjoys it when the RedSox beat the Yankees. Football is a different story. Do you know that he still has his Chelsea Pass from 1976 when home fans were made to get IDs. Only Chelsea fans were allowed to go into the home supporters shed - that was in the days of real hooligan fans...he has some stories. Thanks.

  9. You write beautifully. I'm glad I found your blog this morning. Looking forward to dropping by again.

  10. love your blog!!!!
    you always write so amazingly Gaaiii!!!!
    good luck as you wait for THE letter... lol great job you doing with your son.


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