The Education of Jahmeel
Children are the elders.
As we walked to Lake Merritt, out of the blue, Jahmeel said, "Grandpa, you can't save the world. I can save the world." I was shocked at the absoluteness of his statement, said without a modicum of doubt. And yet I received it with great relief that the burden was finally off me, especially since I have complete confidence in his prophetic vision.
At the Lake Jahmeel ran to where a Chinese lady and her grandson and granddaughter were feeling pigeons and sea gulls. He joined the children, especially the girl his age. He made himself friends, saying, "Don't you want to play with me?"
Eventually he won her over and they began playing, with the older boy leading them on his scooter. The grandmother, who spoke no English and relied on the boy for translation, seemed amused Jahmeel made himself part of their party. I sat on a bench and nodded off and on. Jahmeel was disappointed when they said goodbye.
Earlier at my outdoor classroom, he conversed with a young man and woman. After a few moments the young man came over to me and said, "Man, that little dude has been in our conversation like he's a teenager, commenting and nodding in agreement on everything we're saying."
The boy was sincerely stunned, just as the "youth police" had been earlier when Jahmeel gave them a Haiti, Oh, Haiti poster poem. One brother asked him what was he giving out, when Jahmeel answered, "Black history!" the brother jumped back ten feet in shock.
I told the brother Jahmeel had money, but since he wanted to doubt it, I told Jahmeel to show his money, so he pulled out a little wad of one dollar bills, and the brother jumped back another ten feet.
Since Jahmeel was making all the money, when the poor and mentally ill asked me for money I referred them to Jahmeel who gave them the change they requested.
When the OPD came by, I told them to take Jahmeel with them. The officer heard me so he said, "We're here to help you," and proceeded across the street.
"How they gonna help me, Grandpa?"
"They're gonna pop you upside the head and take you to jail."
"Well, they said they're gonna help you, so let's see. We want the world to know the OPD is going to help us. What a change!"
A group of girls came by, one took a poster from Jahmeel, saying, "Oh, he soooo cute."
"I know I'm a little cute," Jahmeel told me the other day. The girl gave him some change.
"Grandpa, I'm tired working. Can we get some ice cream?"
"You got money, get what you want."
Attorney Walter Riley, who is working on relief in Haiti, came by on the way to his office. I told him to listen to Jahmeel. I told Jahmeel to identify the three men on the Haiti, Oh, Haiti poster.
Jahmeel stumbled out their names, Dessalines, Toussaint and Henri. Walter seemed impressed.