Big Mama

candle Flame 300I remember working a small town hospital in central Mississippi and seeing a patient in her 50’s.  In tow was a very engaging 5 year-old boy.  As I was examining his grandmother, he was going around the ER opening all the drawers and looking inside.  He didn’t touch anything, he just looked.  And the whole time, he peppered me with questions:

“What’re you doing to Big Mama?”
“Why have you got her up there?”
“What’s that thing in your hand?”
“What’s this thing here for?”

“Are you going to look in my ears before I go?”

The last one he asked me three times, and yes, I looked in his ears before he went.  That is particularly interesting, because the ear exam is often one of the hardest things to do when treating children.

After they left, I was laughing with the nurses about what a delightful character he was.  This being a small town, everyone knew everyone’s business, and the nurses explained that his grandmother was raising him because his mother was strung out on drugs in the rough part of town.

I thought about that a lot that day, and I still do.  Big Mama raised the little boy’s mother when Big Mama was probably not much more than a child herself.  With this little boy, she had a second chance, but this time she had some maturity, patience and experience to bring to the job.  The difference speaks for itself.  I often wonder where that little boy is now, he should be approaching 30, and even at 5 years old it was obvious that he was going to do anything he wanted to do, and go anywhere he wanted to go.

Here is the moral to that story:  education is our great hope.  For the foreseeable future, it is our only hope.  The genetics are secondary.  I shouldn’t have to mention that the little boy was black, but given the racism that still prevails in so much of the world, it’s important.  That little boy was a strong argument against racial differences.

Every child has great potential.  Our job is to encourage it and let it grow.

Picture courtesy of

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