Friday, August 20, 2010

Who is Aunt Betty?

Aunt Betty Takes Time to Read
Where I come from, our grandma’s go to the beauty parlor, not the salon. They get a curly perm and often, a rinse. Sometimes the rinse is blue, sometimes lavender or pink. It’s called a rinse for a reason. If you don’t wear your little plastic rain bonnet and you happen upon a little shower, your hair color is coming right off your hair and onto your lovely cardigan sweater. (This is the voice of experience talking.)

So, many years ago, I was at a yard sale in Mt. Pleasant, SC. In a box of costumes, I saw a blue curly wig. I thought, “Oh my. It’s like my grandma’s hair gone too long in the rinse.” But, since it was a quarter, I bought it. You never know when you might need a bright blue wig.

I took it to school and put it in a box of costume pieces and forgot about it. Almost a year later, our school decided to have school-wide rules (which is brilliant, by the way). On our daily news broadcast, one rule each day would be taught. The committee asked me to go on TV on the day of “respect” and sing, Aretha Franklin’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I said, “No, I don’t think so.”

But about ten minutes before we went on the air I thought, “A little old grandma lady- she would do it.” I grabbed that blue wig, a pair of my grandma’s ear bobs (earrings for you non-Southern folk) and Aunt Betty was born.

After that, Aunt Betty made periodic appearances to remind children to mind their manners- push your chair in, don’t say huh? or don’t wash your hands in the drinking fountain. From there I began to do Storytimes and class visits. After that I realized I could use her for staff development. Back then it was a lot easier to be someone else and do books talks about poop and snot than for me to do it.

Now Aunt Betty is an international speaker. Sometimes if I have been to a place as Aunt Betty and return another day as myself, people are disappointed. It’s amazing what you can do with a 25 cent wig.

Aunt Betty visits Field Elem School.
A couple of years ago I told a group of children about having lavender hair. I said that I would just keep it blue, since it matched my eyes. Five minutes into our visit, a little girl raised her hand. She said, "Aunt Betty. I don't think your hair has to match your eyes. You should just do it." So, I've had a makeover. We call it Lightly Lavender. If my Grams had worn glasses, I would look just like her. It's scary.

Where did the Betty come from? My nephew, who is now in his twenties, gave me the name when he was 3. He could say “Debbie,” but chose to use his own nickname. (By the way, very few people call me Debbie and I like that!!) So, it was a perfect choice, since all my family calls me Betty.

Having another person to do storytelling, staff development and other trainings works for me. Maybe it will work for you. Don’t we all wish there were two of us sometimes??

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