Dem yah school pickeney nowadays
Nuh know wah childhood mean,
Aftarall dem have all sorta computa
And calculata machine.
Memba in days gone by
When wi haffi count wid icicle stick?
Memba how much tamarind seed u did haffi save
Fi cyarry bright bright Monday mawnin fi avoid gettin lick?
Grade 1 wi learn how fi write joinin up,
Grade 2 wi learn bout a “wee little mouse”
Grade 3 wi practice di golden rule,
And tun Brownie fi clean people house.
Grade 4 Evan Jones teach wi bout
A rich banana man,
Grade 5 everybaddy walkin to evening class
Wid Common Entrance book in dem han.
Di government used to send new box every year
Wid all sorta readin’ book
Wi read bout “Zachariah dumpling head”.
And one name “Look, Peter, Look”.
My favorite one was “The Fat Girl and The Mango”
And anadda bout one ooman who change har skin
Then Ali Baba and di Forty Thieves
Was di one wi couldn’ stop readin’.
Rememba di Chrismus show at di Parish church?
Wid wi makeshift angel wings?
Memba when wi used fi mek Chrismus cyaad
Fi wi mommy, daddy, and wi siblings?
Memba April Easta paaty and den di May pole dance?
Memba when wi use fi have only one day
Fi wear dress up clothes and wi jeans pants?
Memba when you finally got a full size exercise book,
And yuh first numba two pencil?
Memba when yuh madda buy yuh first protractor?
And you get you owna stencil?
I cannot forget my blue First Aid in English
Nor mi orange Student’s Companion
Dem teach mi nuff tings bout general knowledge
And help me to be a betta woman.
Memba how wi used to play ring game before class
Ah talk bout “I am in a well”?
Or when school gyal used to run afta school bwoy
Wid dem uniform strap and belt?
Memba how wi couldn’ wait fi hear di break bell
Soh wi could’a run wid wi fifty cent,
Goh ah school gate to Ms. Elaine stall
Weh asham and suck suck sell?
123 red light was fi mi favorite game,
Followed by di one bout di ramgoat.
I was always di brown girl in di ring,
A show motion and a kin up my mout.
Memba how wi used to do di 24 bounces?
And everybaddy own a Chinese skip?
123 Aunty lou lou,
Everybody jus ah turn and dip.
Dem deh days pickeney was bright bright bright
Wi neva have technology but wi learn.
Wi neva need no video game nor computa
Fi teach wi how fi discern.
Wi used to tell Big Boy stories
Unda di Tilly lamp
And Anansi story put wi to bed and
Wi laugh til wi belly cramp.
Wi neva need no cable nor noh BET;
Fi mek wi dead wid laugh
And di only colored screen me did know
Was when JBC sign off!
Animation was di monkey face
Mi used to show mi bredda
And di only karate kid was me and him
When wi was fightin each adda.
Wi used to kin puppa lick outta door.
And tek Juicifruit box mek ball
And rounders was di schoolyard game of choice
That included one and all.
Sports day was filled with pure excitement
Everybaddy waan big up dem house!
But when time come fi evening devotion
Di whole school quiet lak a church mouse.
But nowadays ten-year-old gyal pickeney
Drop book fi baby carriage;
And twelve-year-old boy waan drink rum
And fifteen-year-old ah chat bout marriage.
Fi mi days, wi neva dream bout dem tings
Wi would’a prefer romp til morning come.
Wi play hopscotch and dandy shandy
And tek water bucket mek drum.
Ah wah dis life ah come to?
School boys ah run fi pick up gun
Pickeney noh waah be pickeney no more
Imagination is no longa fun.
Mi pleadin wid di parents of today
Teach di pickeney dem some culture fi mi please
Dem ah di beacons of tomorrow
Tell dem fi relax and enjoy some cool breeze.
Jamaican school days full ah vibes
And if dem miss out pon dat dem losin nuff!
Teach dem how fi play di schoolyard games
And nuh fight and gallang soh rough.
Mek dem know fi be strong and proud
Of dem lignum vitae and blue mahoe.
Jamaican people full ah pride
Let all the school children know.
Dem yah school pickeney nowadays
Ah di future of dis lan’.
Mek wi tek dem from in front di tv
And raise dem wid wi own two han’.
And when di pickeney dem enjoy dem childhood
Happy we all will be
Jamaica land of beauty
Will remain Jamaica strong and free.
© Kerri-Ann M. Smith