1. My very educated mother just served us nine pancakes
Well that’s a real slap to the poor woman, isn’t it? What’s the point of all that education if she just ends up serving pancakes to snot-nosed kids?
This is to help you remember how to keep things in their place. This is the order of the planets. This is the order of the family. This is what the women do. This is what the children do. This is how you make the pancakes. From scratch, not from the box.
2. My very educated mother just serves us noodles
What kind of mother only serves noodles? That’s what happens when you let education and women mix. Bet you anything the noodles aren’t even proper pasta. Ramen, probably. Just add MSG and hot water from the tap. Yo mama’s so educated she neglects her kids.
3. My very educated mother just serves underhand
This is what she has learned: It’s better – more efficient, more tactical, less hassle, fewer headaches – to conduct her business on the sly. Like Austen hiding novels under needlework. She uses the low expectations of the well-fed as trip wires. Underhand, she serves balls to catch the Old Guard off guard. She makes them scramble across the court when they thought this thing was going to be doddle.
4. My very educated mother just sighs
when once again, assumptions are being made. Assumptions about who the doctor is, who is speaking on the phone. Sighs when she sees only one female and two brown faces in the lecture theatre when she derives the Schrödinger equation. None of this is new. She started sighing years ago when a boy marched around study hall shouting ‘She’s wrong! She’s wrong!’ to anyone who would listen to him and even to those who wouldn’t. She wasn’t wrong. She just didn’t solve the problem the same way he did.
5. My very educated mother jumped
from discipline to discipline. From continent to continent. To the front of the queue. To the back of the pack. Over the candlestick. Out of the Ivory Tower. Again and again. Why did she keep climbing up that spiral stair case? What was she looking for each time she leapt from those parapets? There she goes again – falling, tumbling, twisting, turning, head over heels over head. What does she see this time? She was not pushed. She jumped.
6. My very educated moth
flies toward the flame. Not such an enlightened act, when you think about it. On the other hand, maybe it’s the only thing to do. There comes a point where there is no other draw, no other lure. The moth cannot undo its education, it can only go forward, into the light. Even if it blinds. Even if it burns.
7. My very existence
I owe to my very educated mother. Each time she hopped orbits, from the pancakes to the flames, she learned something, became educated in a different way. If not for her circumnavigations, I wouldn’t have my owl-like ability to look at life from all angles.
8. My voice
has within it the voices of my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother. Although it comes from just one body, it is layered with the wisdom of generations. When I speak, all these voices ripple outwards, carrying our words into greater spheres of influence.
I stand, not on the shoulders of giants, but on this stack of nine pancakes. I can see for miles. If I have seen further than my mother, it is because of her pancakes and the way she served them.
Melissa Fu grew up in Northern New Mexico and lives in Cambridgeshire UK. Her work has appeared in many publications including Bare Fiction, The Lonely Crowd, International Literature Showcase, Gnarled Oak, Loss Lit and The Nottingham Review. She was the regional winner of the Words and Women 2016 Prose Competition and was a 2017 Apprentice with the London-based WordFactory. Other honours include a Pushcart Prize nomination and shortlisting for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2017. Find her at Spillingtheink.com or @WritingCircles.