Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Everyone needs to believe in someone or something. Faith in our own abilities or in the intercession of a greater power is what makes us resilient and optimistic. It is what prevents us from being swallowed up by our weaknesses. It provides a personal confidence in what we can do. It provides a source of determination and worth. And any professional athlete will tell you that in order to win you have to believe you can.

So now let me tell you why we are discussing this. I have spent the last couple of weeks with Granddaughter and of course, this time of year, you know it – she is writing all those Gawd-awful finals. Now GD runs no risk of failing any of her exams except Social Studies. Social Studies is not one of her strong points. She claims it has no relevance to her life. I can sympathize with that. I felt exactly the same about it when I was in High School.

But there is an exam scheduled and GD and I must do what we can so she can get through it. I wanted to assist so I went over some review sheets with GD. Out of 35 questions, there we were, stuck on at least 15 of them and neither able to help the other. It was pretty dismal and I couldn’t help being seriously worried about how she was going to make it through her SS exam.

Now when I was in school faced with exam anxiety that blocked any rational thinking, erased all memory, and tied tight and painful knots in my chest, I said a little prayer and trusted God to help me out. That worked for me. But at this particular stage in GD’s life, God is no more relevant than Social Studies. So I know full well there is no point in discussing that kind of reliance or helpful intervention. I’m sad GD feels that way, but not too concerned. These things will eventually fall into place for her, when life presents bigger hurtles, but in the meantime she is facing a difficult exam that needs intervention in one form or another. And what needs intervention most of all, is something that will boost her confidence that she CAN pass her SS exam.

Right now if self-determination dictates the future, she might not pass. So what can I do to help? I pondered the problem until I finally came up with a rather weak-kneed solution. The following morning at breakfast time, I took action.

GD looked at me curiously with surprise and dismay when I presented her with orange juice and a toasted salmon salad sandwich for breakfast. "Grandma," she said, "this is an odd breakfast. Why did you make me a fish sandwich for breakfast?"

"Because, my dear," I replied, "that is brain food. And I have a story to tell you about it. Your Grandpa was doing some intricate customizing of some machine parts at work last winter. Three days in a row he went to work but arrived back home a couple of hours later. When I asked him what was up, he said, ‘I don’t know what is going on, but I just can’t think clear enough to figure out how to customize those machine parts. My head is fuzzy and my brain just isn’t thinking clearly.’

But the next day, for some unknown reason Grandpa got up and scoffed down a can of salmon for breakfast. That day he didn’t come home until quitting time. And when he did I could immediately tell that he was well pleased with his day.

‘Guess what happened today?’ he said with enthusiasm. ‘I put that blade on that machine and it works better than any factory-built blade. Tilts, floats, swings, and can be adjusted for any slope. The boss was amazed. He found it all quite unbelievable. I didn’t tell the boss, but I think that salmon did something to clear up my brain.’

So you see, GD, that is why I am giving you fish this morning. It is going to give you the ability to think clearly when you write your exam."

I already knew GD is not particularly fond of salmon. But I was grateful, that she has that gentle and kind soul that prompted her to eat it, even though her facial expression told me it wasn’t easy. I couldn’t help feeling a bit guilty about giving her such an undesirable breakfast particularly since you know, and I know, I didn’t really expect any obvious benefits from the fish sandwich intervention. But still, as a Grandma, I needed to feel that I did whatever I could to help – silly, as it all may seem. So GD choked down the sandwich, and off to school she went.
But when GD got home from school, with all those teenage biases in her head about Grandmas being half nuts and square and possessing dinosaur brains, she was skipping with glee.

"Grandma," she said. "I know for a certainty I aced that one. The answers came to me – Boom, Boom, Boom. Even answers I didn’t know that I knew. That fish thing really works."

Now this morning, GD was scheduled to write a Science final. As I hugged her when she was leaving for school, I suddenly jolted. "Oh dear," I said, "today is your Science Exam and I forgot to make you a fish sandwich!"

"Don’t worry, Grandma," she said. "I do very well in Science. I won’t have trouble with this exam."

Now some beliefs require too much of an individual – to much self denial, too many prayers, too many chants, too many church obligations, and maybe this Fish Faith is like that. GD left me wondering as she headed off to school, if she has denounced her Fish Faith already because it is too difficult a path for her to follow. She’s a believer but somehow I think that already she is considering a spin off – a split from the original doctrine. Probably a shift from Fish Faith to a new sect that promotes Neptune Melts or Jumbo Shrimp in a basket.

Do you think so?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think GD has faith it is in her to have faith in her loved ones. My dauther is like GD she may not beleive in a prayer but she does value the good judgements of others and the value of her friends and other experiences. Faith comes from beleiving in something yourself a friend or God.Just maybe GD has faith in you to help her in her time of need along with her firends.Do we have to beleive in God to be good people?

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Esther said...

Dear Roberta,
You know the fish thing really DOES work..except I use sardines and have sworn by them for years.

I really should eat more fish!

2:14 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Anonymous, those are worthwhile thoughts. Thanks for commenting. In response, I would have to say that sometimes life throws such wicked curves that one has no one to turn to except a supreme being. But I am unwilling and unable to judge if people have to believe in God to be good people. I don't know what is in the hearts of others, I only know what is in my own heart.

Hi esther, nice to see you're still dropping in occasionally. I thought this whole thing was probably more legend than fact -- the thing about fish being brain food. But maybe not. If you're using sardines, you're probably the smartest of all. Sardines are definitely more potently fish, than salmon is! ;)

5:50 PM  
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2:23 PM  

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