Mentoring: My Experience as a Mentee

As a child I had more mentors than I can count. Most of them were the ladies in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Others were her close friends & people from church. I could not go anywhere without someone knowing my mom & keeping me accountable. Likewise, I was never alone anywhere I went. If mom wasn’t there one of them surely was.

When I was real young I looked at them as babysitters; not knowing what my mom had set up. As a mom myself I know EXACTLY what she did. She was strategic in her friendships & acquaintances. Because these people would eventually have an influence of some kind on me.

1 in particular was an AIDS educator, Ms. Sandy. MAAAAN, listen! I was the only 7th grader who knew how to put on a condom & that herpes was for life just like AIDS. That alone kept me not wanting a BF. The knowledge she shared lasts to today…I love my BF though! Ms. Sandy didn’t fool around with kids and sexual education. When I would attend resource fairs with her & my mother I had to help set-up then read everything on the table if I was going to sit there. Since her table was always more “fun” than my mothers I abided by the rules. Before long she could leave me there alone for awhile…yes to answer questions & handout, WHAT? condoms.

Another fond mentor memory was of Mrs. Noble who about ate me alive one Sunday for not wearing earrings. “A lady always has earrings in her ears or in her purse, ” she told me…well I then got it for not having a purse. I’d look to my mother for some help and she just gave me the look (she’s right). I cannot walk out my door without earrings on or in a purse to this day. It sounds crazy, but I am always prepared that way. No ducking from cameras because I’m not finished or having to borrow personals from co-workers. They come see me…even for extra earrings. {sticks nose in the air} Mrs. Noble was always around, but she showed up again when I was pregnant & down. She sent me this beautiful candle holder & blanket to comfort me. She also co-signed on my first car when my “free” car was totaled. Now that’s love!

In high school we moved cities (only 10 miles; but that was dramatic for high school). I thought I was free from all of mom’s friends. NOT!!! The school librarian, I did not know this until I saw her watching me one day through the library windows. I was creeped out until she called me in the library to tell me who she was and in no uncertain terms that she would be watching and reporting my behavior to Mona Ann (my mommie).

I thought: Cool! I’ll just behave on the first floor. Not so much…A few months later I find out the geometry teacher, Ms. Robinson,  (on the second floor) grew up on the same street as my mother. Dag!!! {stomps foot} This meant she knew my grandparents too…Needless to say I did not get away with much in high school. Those ladies irritated the mess out of me some days. They also encouraged & supported me.

When I go to college I thought I was grown. So I wasn’t thinking about a mentor. But of course Mona Ann was. As we walked through some random building (I thought), my mother starts peaking in offices. I was so embarrassed. I almost pulled her arm back as she just steps into this lady’s office. I actually stomped my foot and raised my eyebrows at her (because I thought I was grown). In my embarrassment I dropped my head to the ground and saw what drew her in…MAAAAN I had never been so happy to see a pink & green paddle in my life!!! Mom spotted her soror and asked her point blank to watch out for her baby girl. And that she, Celeste Bland, did until she left BGSU & even some time when we reconnected when I moved to Columbus.

Celeste was my first mentor as an adult. I didn’t have to call her Ms. & she treated my like an adult & checked me like an adult. She taught me & my college BF the ropes of college life. She even taught me how to deal with that college BF who lost his mind during the spring!

During my last weeks at BGSU I had a terrible beak-up. A chic who called herself a friend snatched my man from under my nose. I was devastated, more so at the friendship loss. I called my mom & for the first time she said she could not help me. She was so hurt for me that she could not detach herself enough to be helpful. This is when mom introduced me to Mrs. Mockabee. For months she called & wrote me. I heard from her other times beyond that awful episode. But I never met her in person until 2010.

Then there is “my” Kelly. She was thrown my way when I moved to Columbus. She has been right by my side ever since. I used to say I wanted to be like her when I got older: All the kids love her. Her children are amazing. Her husband is great too. She is talented & lets nothing stop her. She moves with grace no matter how crazy life is. I feel like I’ve arrived at my Kelly-dom. *smooches*

My newest mentor shall remain nameless. But listen when I tell you she is the grand diva of them all. I can’t wait to learn more about leadership from her. She has taught me so much already. She was mentoring me before she agreed to!

I say all of this to make a simple point…MENTORING is so much easier than you realize. Every child & adult needs one. SO I encourage you to swoop you up a kid at your church or your child’s school (with parental permission of course)…it can even be a friend’s child. Include them in something you normally do & just hang. The rest will come. These spongy kids will pick-up something positive from you & apply it to their lives.

MENTOR SOMEBODY & Dream out loud!

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