I’m 71 years old and I just got a life coach. Her name is Jaylie; she’s 10 years old, and she’s my granddaughter.
I had several other choices. My daughter is a psychologist, school counselor and loves to tell me what to do anyway, and I have two nephews who have their doctorate degree in psychology, but frankly, Jaylie has given me better advice than all three of the others combined.
The first good advice Jaylie gave me had to do with my dog, Sam. I got him from Animal Control, and he was a sad looking little mutt when I got him, so he and I were a good match. After a year or so, Sam started throwing up frequently. I have had a lot of dogs and I’ve always given them table scraps, and Sam was so pathetic, I couldn’t help but do that with him.
I was pretty sure this was his problem, but it was hard not to give him steak scraps, etc. When I was discussing this with my daughters family, Jaylie jumped right in.
Papa”, she said, “You’re poisoning Sam. Think that every time you give him scraps, you’re giving him poison. ”That image was just what I needed, so Sam got cut off table scraps and he quit throwing up. Whenever I throw away scraps, I tell him, “Sorry, Sam. Jaylie’s rules”, and he just walks away like he’s thinking, “What can you do; it’s Jaylie’s rule.”
Jaylie has also worked to clean up my language. I try not to swear in front of my four little girls, but they have their own list of words that are “naughty.” Obviously, I can’t use them here, because Jaylie might read this, but I’ll hint at some examples. “Stupid” is a naughty word at their house, and they get me on that constantly because I think that describes a great many things in the world. I’ve also pointed out to them, that the work, when applied to things other than people, is not necessarily a bad word.
Saying that a rule is stupid is not using it in a bad way. Saying that Republicans are stupid, while accurate, is probably a violation.
I got caught another time, when it was just Jaylie, her parents and I, and I said that something was a load of crap. (Sorry, Jaylie. I had to use “crap” to make my point) She called me on using that word, so I said, “Let me rephrase that; it’s a load of shit.” Her parents tried not to laugh and said, “Oh, Papa.”
Jaylie turned to them and asked, “Is that a naughty word.”
We laughed heartily, and I asked, “What kind of school does she go to, that you can get through fourth grade and not know that word.”
The girls have corrected me so often that the last time I was there, we were finishing eating, when 8 year old Jelise said, “Papa, you’ve done a really good job watching your language today.” Praise from and 8 year old for not saying naughty words. What has the world come to?
I’ve also gotten food advice. While at a buffet, I came back with chicken legs, and Jaylie glanced at them, and said, “Papa, those are too spicy for you.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said in defiance and took a giant bite and spit it right out because it was indeed too spicy. She then showed me how to cut off the outer layer and eat the nice bland chicken inside.
I’ve also gotten medical advice. (“Papa, you’ve got two owies on your head. You should be more careful.”)
Fashion advice. (“Papa, you spilled on your shirt…. And your pants. You should be more careful.
And dating advice. (“Papa, be nice to Shirley. Don’t blow it.”)
In short, a ten year old is running my life. I laughed at that TV show, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, because I taught high school for 32 years, and I was pretty sure I was smarter than a 5th grader.
Jaylie will be in 5th grade next year. I’m not so sure I’m smarter than this 5th grader.
Author’s note: Jaylie is now 12 and in 7th grade. I sometimes have to have her explain the advice in simpler terms for me.