Friday, November 13, 2009

Teaching the Kid about Giving folks Credit. No, the Other One.

My daughter Khari told me this morning, as I was still asleep, that she didn't have to wear a uniform today, she could wear her "own" clothes, as she calls them.

First, I was stunned because she was awake before me on a school day. Very rare.

Second, there was absolutely no way I would know the truth before showing up to the school because they never answer the phone at the school in the morning. I decided to take Khari's word for it.


So, I picked out an outfit for her to wear, even though her new 6 year-old habit has been to play "Sike" with me. Sike is when she tells me a lie and laughs when I believe her. She hasn't mastered the art of using the word yet, because she often doesn't say "sike" until at least an hour and up to a day after she told the lie. This inability to get the proper use of "sike" down is identical to her difficulty in understanding the idea of what a punchline is. She doesn't understand that "Knock, knock" is not the funny part. But, I digress.

So, I believed that she wasn't siking me. Turns out she wasn't. She could wear what she wanted because today was APPLE DAY. Of course you are asking, WTH is APPLE DAY as I did. Khari told me that they were sampling different types of apples and she had to bring an apple in. We had grapefruit, plums, watermelon, bananas and strawberries in the house. No apples.

Khari asks her father does he have an apple somewhere in the house and he suggests to her to bring in some apple juice. We had an unopened jug that could be shared with the class. I heard him tell her this in the other room. When she came into the kitchen where I was, she said that she had an idea. How about, she said, I take in a bottle of juice.

"That's a good idea," I said.

"Yeah, that's why I came up with it," she said.

I turned and looked at her.

"Oh really?"


And she begrudgingly admitted it was Daddy's idea. That's when I decided to teach the lesson of giving folks their credit. No, not credit as a money loan, but credit as recognition for their ideas and work.

Idea Snatchers

Did you ever have a convo with your mom or dad about giving people credit where credit is deserved? I didn't. And, the last thing I wanted was for Khari to endure the wake-up call when someone she worked with (in school or on a job) took credit for something she did. Or, worse, she became the person who took credit from another person. No matter how minute.

See, I've watched folks who do that, to the point that it has become second nature and they don't realize they are doing. They are the ones who you tell an idea to and two seconds later they repeat it with an "I" in front of it. Like this,

You: "Ms. Turner rocks. I think I'm going to throw a celebration for Ms. Turner because she is a great teacher and deserves a going-away party."

Them (two seconds later): "You know, I think Ms. Turner deserves a party. I'm gonna throw one. Wanna come?"

You may be thinking that the important thing is that Ms. Turner gets the party and it doesn't matter who throws it, but, I am adamant that the folks who steal ideas are usually the most trifling people on the team who are often the least likely to do ANYthing required to get the job done OR, they reap tons of the benefits (if there are any to be had) and share none of the benefits. We can look at the creator of Facebook as a main example of this.

There are many ways to address idea stealers, but my hope today with my talk with Khari is to prevent the development of one.

There is creativity and ideas everywhere, and, yes, while we are inspired by the work we see others do, if we are completely copying and repeating what it is that they are creating, saying, doing or building we are not revering them or paying homage, we are being lazy and disingenious with our dealings. Folks have a hard time trusting, too, those who they feel steal their ideas.

Giving folks credit for their work and ideas is an action of respect. It is a behavior that, when practiced everyday, becomes a habit. A good habit to have. And, I believe it ultimately comes full circle, where you are given credit for what you do when it matters most.

When I finished sharing these gems with Khari, I wasn't too sure if she understood my point. She looked at me, shrugged and went off to put the juice in her bookbag.

Maybe she did get it though, because, as we walked into the school, me wearing a hat and yesteray's outfit, she wearing her pink outfit of choice--she kissed me good-by and before parting, gave me my credit for wearing a hat. Thanks, I said, pleased that she admired the beret I had just tossed on. "You're Welcome," she replied. "I wante to give you credit for wearing a hat because your hair is looking pretty scary this morning Mommy." Of course today she decides to understand the use of a punchline.

Check out the video below I had fun adding blurbs to this past week. I get a kick out of watching it because (1) I love watching Binah dance and (2) it cracks me up how Khari just climbed onto stage with me and I just kept on performing. We are classic. It is from the 2009 Green Fest which was here in DC last month.

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