Yesterday, I was in a public restroom that had three stalls, two small and one large. A young girl had rushed into the bathroom before me, quickly claiming the largest stall. I found it curious, but nothing special. It was just the two of us in the bathroom, each behind our chosen stall doors. Then she spoke, “I really love the big bathroom, mommies with little kids also like it, it gives them room”. I paused a second and then agreed. She continued, “I wish all the bathrooms in here were large, they should make them all large, that would be great”. I said, “Maybe when you grow up you could design bathrooms with only large stalls”. Then she declared, “Oh no, I couldn’t do that…” Curious, I asked , “Why?”. She replied, “I’m not very smart. I am in second grade and don’t even known my times tables yet. I try to remember them, my dad helped me with 8 times 8, but then I forgot it. All I remember is 100 times 100”. I caught my breath and felt a tug on my heart. Here is a little girl, all of 7 or 8 years old, who already thinks she is not smart enough. I wanted to help. “So what is 100 times 100?” I asked. She answered. I gave her some praise for knowing the correct answer. She said, “Well, I tried to learn 8 times 8, I knew if for a few days but then I forgot it”. By now I had washed my hands and was leaning against the counter talking to the still closed, stall door. I needed to pull out some nugget of wisdom to impart to this young person, in the next 20 seconds. The word that came to my mind was practice. So that is what I told her. You just need to practice. I reminded her of the answer to 8 x 8, suggesting that she repeat it to herself several times every morning and every night. Then I reassured her that if she says it over and over, she will eventually remember it. I was rewarded with an extended “Oooh…!” My mind visualized a cartoon light bulb going on over her head. The idea of practicing, until you remembered it had given her some hope. I smiled, told her I had to go and to have a wonderful day.
Who knows…one day restrooms, full of over-sized stalls specifically designed for mommies with little kids, may be a new trend and it will have all started with a little advice on how to memorize 8 times 8!