The Way I See It...
Robin Rogers, Ed.D.
Getting to know the Fabulous 40 and Under each year brings me great joy. Upon reading their short biographies, it’s confirmation that Texarkana has involved young people who are working to make our region better. One of my favorite parts of this issue each September is seeing the “Best Piece of Advice” each person has been given. Over the years, there have been some doozies. My editor sent me a text last week asking what to do if one of the pieces of advice has an inappropriate word for “Four States Living standards.” Because it was the advice of someone’s grandpa, and the word did not completely trip over my personal list of hated curse words, I said to let it slide. In fact, I laughed thinking of certain colloquial sayings of some of my dearest departed friends and relatives. Many were littered with colorful language that I’ll spare your innocent eyes from reading. But, I’m giggling as I type.
I’m incredibly good at giving advice, and if my saying so makes me cocky, so be it; this is probably due to the many mistakes I’ve made over the years. My friends have said I might need to curtail my tendency to overshare, but keeping things real has always been more my style. For instance, I am quick to sabotage a first date with anybody, be him the toast of Texarkana or the Prince of Timbuktu. I haven’t figured out how to get through a first date without saying, “I’ve failed at marriage before – like three times, I have a daughter who is always going to live with me – or at least that’s the plan, and my best friend is my ex-husband. Oh, and I don’t cook. Like, my son told somebody last week that the last time his mom cooked was about three Thanksgivings ago. Isn’t that funny? You may never ask me out again!”
I know what you are thinking. There is a reason why she’s single. But talk to me about your relationship issues, and I will espouse the best of the best advice; I’m like a solid
combination of Dear Abby, Dr. Phil, and Dr. Ruth rolled into one. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I’m still giggling. Have you ever said, “Seriously, why would he buy the cow if the milk is free?” Or, “Lie down with skanks and you will get up with VD?” Haha. I have. But I also sincerely pushed one piece of relationship advice that I believe in, and subscribed to, in spite of everything. “If a person isn’t what you would consider ‘lifetime marriage material,’ don’t waste your time dating.” I married three good men, so I still consider that a win!
Another area of life in which I enjoy giving advice surrounds education. “Education is something that nobody can ever take away from you.” As I write this, my son will start his very first college class at UCA tomorrow. We dropped him off over the weekend, but I did not leave him there until he got the lowdown on our college success theories. Unlike our girls, Briley listens and at least pretends to take the words to heart. Chris started in on him about the importance of changing his underwear regularly and looking presentable to go to class. Good advice, I thought. Chris told him to join a club or a fraternity and get involved with student study groups. Great advice. We both chimed in, “Don’t skip classes, and be on time.” All good.
Finally, we got ready to boogie back to Texarkana, when I pulled out my best advice for any college freshman. Remember now, I have taught undergraduate students at college since 1993, so that’s more than 25 years of experience with students. I told him to look me in the eyes; that’s his cue that I mean business. “Son,” I said, “the first day, you need to get to your classes early, and pick a seat in the front row; claim it for the semester. Front Row Joes are the students who want to earn an A, and research shows that students who sit on the front row score an average of 20% higher than other row students.” He heard me
and nodded, but like all good parents (ha) who know the importance of reiterating info, I intended to plant that seed of wisdom again.
So, before I started writing this editorial tonight, I sent him a text message that had a picture of Post Malone, a music star that my son loves, on stage with people on the front row reaching up to grab his hand. Then, I sent another picture of someone in the front row of first class on a commercial airplane. The seat was laid back, and the lady in the seat had champagne beside her; she was being pampered by an attentive stewardess. Lastly, I sent him a photo of a fancy car being valeted at the front of a restaurant. After I saw that he had read those three texts, I sent him one more message: In life, whether you are flying first class, or buying front row seats to see Post Malone, or valeting your car to be parked up front, all of those incredible experiences cost a lot of extra money. Your dad and I have invested a lot in your education plan. Sitting on the front row in your classes will not cost us one extra cent, but that front row experience will be a first class ticket. Seriously. Trust me on this one. The first row is the A row, and I am expecting “First Day of School Pictures” tomorrow, with bonus points if you are sitting in the front row. Love, Mom
P.S. You know how you told me that when you become a doctor someday you will buy me a 4Runner? I know you’re gonna make this happen. On the front row.
This month, I am savoring the best life quotes submitted from the 40 people who were nominated for this issue. I got to meet and photograph so many of them, and they are diverse and talented, community leaders and people advocates. I’m proud to present the 2019 Fabulous 40 and Under. Hope you take the time to see Who’s Who in 2019, and as always, thanks for reading FSLM, and never discount Row A, Seat 1