To shine out like shook foil...

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

Secrets Sing

(Mentoring speech, D’fils , at Mrs. Micah Arneberg’s end of year family dinner)

For many years now I tell the students I teach, “If there isn’t any singing in your classroom, there ain’t much learning going on.” Here, with this humorous mix of grammar and usage, I am saying that in the mentoring structure you’ll find lots of singing. This singing starts just when the child is little more than a P-nut, --or even a little more than a ‘butterfly effect’ in someone’s tummy. At this time the mother is still mind for her baby.

She is Their First and Best Mentor

The fetus hears her heart thump, and every soft breath sounding like a very loud sound. And the mother sings and the baby, when it is awake, listens. Singing. Listening. Secrets: the fetus hears and senses something it did not know before. Later when they are alone in new swaddling, mother tells her child all her secrets…about their future…we’re going to walk some day, we’re going to ride a bike someday together….She is mind for him by nature; she sings for the child: she is the child’s first and best loved mentor.

Mentorship: Even A Six Year Old Can Do It

Thinking for a child is very easy, and simple, so simple that even a 6 year old can perform it to her 2 year old brother: “ABCD one two three, (and so on, you know the singing--)….next time won’t you sing with me.”

A Child of Six’s Words
Have Just Given Us Mentoring’s Secret

And now we come to the most important part of mentoring, and a child of six’s words have just given us the deepening secret of mentoring. As the baby reaches his “early childhood adolescent development” there is a change that needs to be made. (and this is the amazing part: instead of the six year old being mind for the brother forever, the six year old changes something here and says to her brother: next time…sing with me. And talk about change--that changes everything here.)

You’re In It

But when is the ‘next’ time. For most of you, you’re in it—the early human adolescent development stage. Middle School, etc. This is where that rushing decibel of the mother’s breathing is infinitely louder, more incessant, and more complex. The lullabys here are a large symphony of things she wants you to become and do. The alone room space becomes in our era, an increasing global city, or for many of you—the Cloud.

The Global City

This village, this global city of a family member’s making is where the mother you are, the father you are, the sister you are, the mentor you are gets to sing with you as you grow older. The secrets that sing come out in this song from this reality, --listen people this is what the high schooler is saying: I need someone to sing with me.


How do you perform this singing with a youth. Similarly to when the child was yet unborn; similarly to when she was just a baby in swaddling, and similarly to when he was 2 and listening to the older sibling chant to him…when he didn’t even know what a two was. What I would like you to remember for our time here together is that a secret is something that you learn that you did not know before, and that secrets sing. Let’s me show some ideas of what this looks like.

Secret: I Want To Be President

Child comes to the table says to mother. “I want to be president someday.”

The secret is now open. The child has told the parent something they did not know. And always remember now: Secrets sing.

The Mother’s Secret (something the child did not know): “He that ruleth over men, must be just.”

Another Secret: Quadrinomials

Any of you know what a quadrinomial is. For those you who don’t want to know, let me give you an example anyway: C divided by 4x and 6a based by the aphorism of abcdefg.”

Didn’t understand that…O-Okay. Well, let’s try it a different way--child comes home from school, four-letter-word frustrated, tells the parent, (secret now) “Those fractile equations…I mean who does that…how do you do trifecta quadra polynomial infarctions--I just can’t get it.”

Parent secret: Poem: Trifecta Quadra Polynomial by Sam I Am

Trifecta Polynomial
That’s why we go to school
You can do them
Just listen to the rule.

Trifecta Polynomial
Math is just a tool,
You can do them,
The secret’s in the rule.

Once the child has the secret that it’s all about the rules and getting them good, the light goes on. Secrets start singing for that child. And Emerald Trifectas become easier to win…Sure.

Another Secret

Josh Neuman, Water Polo Coach of my daughter’s winniest Wilson team. He went to college four five six years just to learn how to sing to his players. Okay, well…they do have to go to college to learn the secrets of the game; but let me tell you an idea of how I hear him sing to them at practice.

“Marianna! 4-4-2-0h R-e-n T-n D-n D-Oh…when you see that, you paddle your way down there…in the center! The center…that’s it! That’s it--drown her, drown her!”

I still don’t understand that Ren Tn Dn D-0. But he was singing to his players. Giving them secrets. And they won games.

Secret: The Father at The Top

Then if that wasn’t enough singing, at her game there’s the guy behind me in the swim bleachers way up at the top. I know he probably didn’t go to college to learn his singing, but there he is…you could hear his decibels. “Sara! Take the ball…Good..Good…shoot shoot it! Yeah, you go girl…that’s the way, Sara.”

Very proud father. But did you hear the singing? It has a melody all its own coming from deep within the mentor. Beautiful. Secrets Sing--whether you go to college or not; whether you’re six years old or not.

Secrets From the Past: History

And then history, ladies and gentlemen, secrets from the past…I read you these words.

Poem: Secret Courages

Jose, can you see
What your Grampa has done
What so proudly he sailed
In the United States Navy.

And the war came to us
The bombs burst everywhere
Gave proof thru the night
That his secrets still sing.

Jose, thank your Grampa
For the secrets he gave
For the land of the free
And the Homework …of the...brave.

Military Servers give their all; things we have never heard or seen. Things like Courages, blood, protection, honor. And please keep remembering, for our time here today: Secrets Sing!

Shanaka: My Stepson

He came in like normal from middle school. I saw him enter the front door and as usual I went to meet him in the hall. As soon as he saw me he burst into a fit of crying and said, “She dumped me. She said I….” And that was his Secret…Something I never heard him or any of my children say before.

My secret was the deepest amount of compassion I have ever mustered with the tightest arms I could pull with.

Twenty years later, and at six feet tall he returned that hug. It was at his grandmothers funeral. Where I was the only one he chose to lift a foot and half off the asphalt as soon as I was seen by him. Secrets? Yeah…they sing. Even after all these years.

Secrets Sing, and there is no learning if there is no singing in your mentoring classroom. And try to remember that this kind of singing goes back and forward between persons. Because now is that next time….now youth are asking ‘won’t you sing with me.’

Young people keep telling your mentors your secrets: what you want to be someday, what you want to know, how you’d like to become more than the stuff that presently surrounds you.

Mentors keep telling your mentee secrets, keep admonishing them to look both ways before…they cross the ocean.

Thank you for attending. Thank you.

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