The Other Side of Education: “Cupid” and “Nappy Head”

March 17th, 2009 | By

Yesterday, my niece called because she needed some help with her algebra homework. I pick her up and notice she is wearing clothes I know her parents would not approve of. I say nothing and we head to my house. About 10 minutes after we get there, a knock comes tapping at my door.

Not surprised, I open the door to see a little nappy headed boy standing in front of me. My niece shyly hid her face like she wasn’t interested in who was at the door. He manages to mumble out, Did I see “cupid” come in here. I smile and invite him in.

My niece is smiling like she got away with some thing, I let her have her moment. I leave the two unattended for about 20 minutes then I make my return and the real fun began.

When I got back, they had their math books open and were doing home work. They were giving each other little smiles and pokes in between but they were really accomplishing work. I sat at the table and asked if they had any questions.

“Nappy Head” said no. He had a good grasp of math, he just wanted to help “cupid” study. Cupid just looked away, not fully sure how I was going to re-act after the fact. I calmed her fears with a little verbal jabbing and she enjoyed her study date with “Nappy Head”.

“Nappy Head” said “There are two forms of education, knowledge you get from school and knowledge you get from life. Neither is more important than the other.”

I questioned his thought. He informed me it wasn’t his thought, it was his interpretation of a W.E.B. Dubois. (You’ll understand the relevance of this in a couple days.)

I got caught in my stereo-typing. I didn’t assume he was dumb, but I did assume he was broke. The more I chatted with “Nappy Head”, I realized he was smarter than the average bear. He wore plain jeans, an almost white tee, and a pair of boots too scratched to know the brand. I didn’t realize the err of my ways until I spotted the $280 watch on his arm. It was a plain black Citizen Echo, just like the one I got my hubby for Christmas.

So I questioned, “What do you plan on doing with your life?”

He answered, “I’m going to be a millionaire.”

So I questioned, “How do you plan on becoming a millionaire?”

He answered, “When I get enough money, I’m going to open a barber shop and let my uncle cut hair. Then, I’m going to start investing in real estate. It’s the perfect time to come up like Donald Trump.”

So I questioned, “How do you plan on getting enough money to open a barber shop?”

He answered, “Me and my uncle do what we got to do.”

At this moment, my nieces’ whole attitude changed. He parents shelter her so much, she is unaware of things right in front of her. I could tell, the more he talked the more she learned about him. What would’ve happened if she never caught on and got caught out there?

So I question, “Do you know it makes it a lot harder to secure a loan if you are a convicted felon? If doing what you do causes your dream to become harder to reach, is it worth it?”

He answered, “I’d rather take that chance than spend another night hungry, cold, and too mad at life to dream.”

I didn’t feel sorry for “Nappy Head”. But the truth of the matter is, more than likely he’ll be the one that gets popped. They always seem to catch the one’s that do it more out of necessity than greed. But what could I tell him? He picked a path to walk, knew the stakes, but decided it was worth the risk.

I told “Nappy Head” we make dinner at 6:00 every night and it’s always warm in my house. If he decided the risk was to great, he was welcome in my home. He nodded and they said their goodbyes.

Now, it was time to deal with my niece. I gave her no indication of what was to come. I drove her home and walked her into the house. There, I told her parents how she concocted her little meeting with “Nappy Head” by lying and setting me up.

She looked at me like she was shocked. In her mind, I’m sure I had destroyed what ever trust she had in me. Allowing her to sneak and lie with me as a cover was unacceptable and she had destroyed the trust I had in her to do the right thing, no matter how hard it was.

I turned to my niece, in front of her parents, “You did the wrong thing, even if it was for the right reason. If you were my daughter, I would have no problem with you having supervised visits with a boy. I’m not high-strung or over bearing, like some people. But I am not your mother or father, and it’s not my place to teach you how to disobey their wishes.

If you had came to me and said, I like this boy but my parents won’t let me see or talk to him, then I could’ve helped you work it out with them. Instead you chose to lie and that’s not cool.” She was then sent to her room.

One of my best friends and her husband, stood in front of me like, “We don’t know what we are going to do with her.”

I looked at my friend, “Let her see boys. She is 14, a good student, and respectful child. But she is also growing up and you have to let her get the other side of her education. The boy she likes sells drugs and she didn’t even know it.

If you make her sneak, she will sneak, and you have no control over the decisions she makes. But if you nurture her through the process, then she will keep you in the loop and you can have some influence over her life.”

I came home and looked at my daughter. She is beautiful, smart and full of attitude. I hope I can heed my own advice when it comes to my child. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and prayers heading to heaven.

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