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The Ghost of Christmas Past

16 Dec

Can I just say that I am shocked and appalled at the moment! After reading a recent comment thread on a post from an old high school friend of mine I was completely disheartened to find that there are so many modern parents who are skewing the notion of Santa and therefore depriving their children of a traditional childhood rite of passage.

The post started off innocent enough, just a curious mom wondering about what age her friends were when they stopped believing in Santa Claus; somehow it took a turn from there.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with logic and reality but at some point enough is enough.  Said friend admits that her daughter really doesn’t get the concept of Christmas yet (in all honestly she is probably still a little young to fully grasp it) but she also touched on another point for a different blog I have been working on so, Voila! The Girl in the Black Flip Flops brings you a twofer special today!a.aaa-The-Death-of-Santa-Claus

My friend also eludes that her daughters lack of Santa knowledge is possibly due to her own lack of care to decorate for the holiday finding it all “a hassle for short term fun”   Where have I heard this similar sentiment recently?  Oh! That’s right! A lovely little piece written by a one Hannah Bird of the Nauvoo Times, an LDS blog site featuring Ender’s Game author, Orson Scott Card.  In this blog, Ms. Bird speaks of the dangers of the recently found holiday tradition of the Elf on the Shelf.  Now, if Ms. Birds objections to this holiday past time were of a religious nature then I might be inclined to turn the other cheek; however, it seems that her chief complaint with the doll is that it adds even more pressure to keep up with the Jones to already over worked woman around the globe.  And here we have come full circle back to my friend who finds holiday decorating, “a hassle for short term fun.”

Oh, I am beginning to think that quiz I took the other day on Facebook to find my real age was right because I feel very old at the moment.  Maybe it’s because these women have this precious gift that I myself was denied in having children, and as luck would have it, small children.  Maybe it’s just that I have watched Fiddler on the Roof a few too many times and can hear Tevye singing Tradition in the back of my head but I can’t help but feel like somewhere along the way we have lost our sense of the wonder and mystery that is this time of year.  It is not just my friend and her lack of enthusiasm for adorning the Christmas tree, after all, I myself have opted for a small table top Charlie Brown tree my mom bought me as a gag gift a couple of years back for the last few years.  It’s that there are so many of the commenter’s that feel the same way.  When did we stop taking time to foster imagination in our children?  It shouldn’t be about how tired you are at the end of the day or how much you have left to do, it should be about seeing that look on your child’s face the next morning when she rushes though the house in search of what mischief your elf has been up to while she slept.  It should be about the excitement of your son as he races to the tree on Christmas morning in hopes of finding that one special gift he has had his heart set on for weeks now.  It’s the look of pure joy, innocence and adoration that make it worth it to me.  No matter how tired my parents were there was one thing I could always count on in my house and that was that Santa would come and eat the cookies I left for him and that even if everything in the world was going wrong, come December, I would always remember that I had a family that loved me and I had a place to always call home.  I could only tell you a handful of the things I ever got for Christmas, only the most memorable stick out in my head to this day, but as I have gotten older it is those warm and fuzzy feelings that I cling to.  To this day, I have yet to miss the local NBC news on Christmas Eve (even though we only watch FOX or ABC the rest of the year) to see Santa on the radar.  There has only been one or two Christmas Eve’s that I have missed driving through the neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights.  We still only open one gift on Christmas Eve (Usually the PJ’s that mom has stashed for us somewhere) and there are still Christmas cookies for Santa and the reindeer, even if Santa is in Heaven now.

Having children is about sacrifice.  When you have them, your life is no longer really about you anymore.  Those children become your world.  What I would give to have that opportunity that so many seem ready to squander away.  It’s not even really a matter of Jesus vs. Santa either; we always knew the reason for the season and Mom was always there to remind us what we were really celebrating, but without that magical wonder that my parents cultivated in me and my brother, I don’t really think that we would be the caring, sensitive people that we are today.  Maybe if we taught our children how to dream and believe in magic again this world wouldn’t be such a cold and callous place to live anymore.

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Thanks for Playing Our Game Today!

26 Oct

winnerJust to the west of the city of Ft. Worth there sits the small community of Aledo, Texas.  This close-knit community of less than 1800 people has been embroiled in a controversy these past few weeks centered around the Aledo High School football team.  One would think when they hear this that perhaps the team is playing ineligibleble players or there is a steroids scandal but one would be wrong.  What else could it be you ask?  Well, it seems that the Aledo High School football team wins too much.

You read that right, they win too much, and not only that but they win by large margins.  In fact, every game this season has been a large margin of victory and this unbalance in power is where this story begins.   It’s a typical October Friday night in Texas, the stadium lights are shining bright on the Bearcat Stadium, its Band Parent night and the crowds in the stands are cheering on the undefeated home team.  Opponent Western Hills High from West Ft. Worth is having a bad season so far, having lost all of their games to date but no one expected this kind of blow out.

Coach Buchanan, after scoring an uncontested 28 points in the first quarter of play, makes the decision to pull his first string players and keep the ball on the ground for the rest of the game.  He searches his brain to try and make this a fair fight, doing everything but telling his boys to take a knee.  When the dust had settled Aledo walked away with a 91-0 victory over the Western Hills Cougars, it wasn’t until the next day when it hit the fan.   A lone parent from Western Hills, a Father of one of the players struggling with the words to console his son after the game, files a complaint on the Western Hills HS website alleging that the lopsided victory was, in fact, nothing more than a case of bullying.

This father, and I am sure others who opted to keep silent, wondered why the Aledo coaching staff didn’t ease up when it was so obviously clear that the game was in the bag.  Why did they not have mercy on these boys who were so clearly out of their league.  Despite the fact that support has been overwhelmingly in favor of the Aledo team the controversy has gotten me to thinking about exactly what message we are sending our children.  It occurs to me that there are lists of a words and phrases that are red flagged as trigger words and should one of those words dared to be uttered then we immediately jump to conclusions and cry that the sky is falling.  More often than not we are over sensitized to bullying and the consequences of it.  Don’t get me wrong, I realize that bullying has come a long way from the name calling and snickers of my childhood, with the popularity of social media and the vast array of technology available to our children there is no escaping the reach of the school yard bully.  However, with that said, at some point we need to teach our children to have a thick skin about things.  Do I still get my feelings hurt as a grown woman?  Sure I do but now I have the perspective to know that words are just that and only have the power to do what I give them.  Because of this we have raised a generation of whiny over sensitive people who are so concerned about being fair that they are not concerned about what is right.

In this case, the Aledo football team has worked hard to get where they are, undefeated and surely heading to state championships in the next few weeks.  Is it right to look these boys in the face and tell them that they need to play down to a team that, for all intents and purposes, appears to have not worked as hard which is evidenced by their winless season so far?  Is it right to tell the Western Hills football players that Aledo is just a big bad school yard bully picking on the weak?  At this rate we might as well hand these boys their worthless participation trophies and send them packing off to college unprepared for the injustices that await them in the real world.  Instead of teaching these kids that hard work pays off and that as long as you know you have tried your absolute best then there is nothing to be ashamed of we are telling them that when things don’t go your way all you have to do is pout and cry the loudest about how unfair it is and someone will step up and change the rules halfway through the game.

NEWSFLASH PEOPLE!! Life is not fair, it never has been.  If it was I would have inherited my millions by now and be retired on some mountain top and never have to work another day in my life.  By handling this generation with kid gloves we have done them a major disservice and in turn have performed a disservice to our nation by not preparing the next generation of leaders to make the hard choices when someone will surely have to make them.  When did we stop valuing hard work and how to we start to value it again?

State Fair Blues

30 Mar

Howdy Folks!

They say everything is bigger in Texas and in this case I believe they (whoever “they” may be) just may be right.  This week the local BillBraggBigTexbuzz has been all about the dismissal of Bill Bragg, the man who has voiced the larger than life mascot of the State Fair of Texas for the last 11 years.  Some are upset about the way that his boss, Sue Gooding, did the deed, letting him know that they would not be renewing his contract via email, some are upset that this “unofficial mascot” was fired at all.  Petitions are flying around and I am sure the in boxes at the State Fair offices are being inundated with hate mail.

Big Tex originated in Kearns, Texas as the worlds largest Santa, a way to draw in holiday shoppers to the small North Texas town.  In 1952, Tex made his first appearance at the State Fair, an annual “county fair” that draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Dallas area every October, when he was purchased by the Fair president, R.L. Thornton, who commissioned an artist to turn Santa into the iconic cowboy.

Why would the State Fair make such a potentially disastrous blunder as this?  It seems that Mr. Bragg is in violation of his contract with the Fair.  Apparently he liked to tell people that he was the voice of the 52 foot cowboy and he liked to tell them publicly.  He was known to be approached by children at the fair who would ask to have their picture taken with him, he would make speaking engagements with big named charities like the American Cancer Society, where, presumably, they would introduce him as the voice of Big Tex.  Just generally making a nuisance of himself (I hope everyone can pick on my sarcasm here)

So, the State Fair officials made a decision to not renew his contract because he wouldn’t follow their rules.  If this had been 50 years ago the Fair officials would recognize this for what it is, good publicity.  Mr. Bragg is not misrepresenting the Fair, he is not taking business away from the Fair, he is not making money by presenting himself as the voice of the beloved mascot, if anything he is bringing joy to children and fans of the icon by posing for pictures, he is bringing good press to the Fair by making charity appearances for well-known and reputable charities, in my opinion, he is a marketing dream.

So, why would the State Fair officials make such a bad PR move as this?  No one knows for sure, Fair officials are keeping pretty closed mouth about this one.  This leaves one to speculate that maybe this might have something to do with the fire that destroyed Big Tex at the end of the 2012 season.  Talk was for a while after that Big Tex would come back bigger and better than before but that he wouldn’t be the Tex that everyone remembered.  They have diversified Tex in recent years, growing up, Tex only spoke English but in recent years they have made him bilingual and during the fair you could hear Tex exclaim, “Hola Amigos!”  This led many people to wonder if the new Tex would look just a little darker than he had in years past.  Fair officials have denied this claim.

There have only been five men to speak for the giant over the last 60 years or so, Mr. Bragg took over in 2002, everyday during fair season, he would make his way to the booth to welcome visitors and make important announcements.  I have to wonder if, in this age of computers and technology, they haven’t figured out a way to digitally make Tex speak, surely saving the Fair thousands of dollars into the future since a computer won’t charge any residual money and would never break a contract.  Officials would be making a tremendous mistake by doing this, but I doubt that they care about that.

Whatever the reason and outcome, one thing is for sure, State Fair officials have started a firestorm of controversy.  They got publicity, but I don’t think it was the kind they bargained for.

What’s a Girl to do?

2 Mar

The other day, while on Yahoo checking my email, a trending topic caught my attention.  “Toy Sex Change” it screamed from the right hand corner of the screen.  I had to click it.  To my surprise the story was not about a doll that looked more like Ken than Barbie but about Lego’s.

Lego beautifulLego’s, those wonderful building blocks of creativity from your childhood.  They honed your fine motor skills while allowing  your imagination to bloom with eclectic buildings and birds of prey.  Go into any toy department now and you will discover that these are no longer your parents Lego’s.  Now days there are Lego’s marketed to all types of genre, Star Wars fans, Lord of the Rings fans, Cars fans and now there is even an option marketed specifically to little girls, Lego Friends.

Reading the story about these little bundles of pink and purple girlishness I was a little inspired.   Not only did these little dolls offer girls an option of backgrounds and screens (a departure from the standard beach bikini backgrounds of the typical Barbie) by allowing them to pick careers for their dolls like Vet or pilot but the doll itself is more proportionate and looks more like a real person without being over the top risqué like the Bratz dolls were.  I was so inspired that I shared the story on the Facebook page of a Fat Acceptance group I am a member of thinking that it would be received openly and as happily as I had been

Boy was I wrong….

It seems that I have been hiding under a big boulder and its name was gender.  No one seemed to get my excitement at the doll and that it opens little girls up to not being restricted to the confines of a Barbie with its unrealistic expectations; instead they were up in arms that Lego’s had introduced this line of toy that was gender restrictive by telling girls that they should like pink and purple and being girlie, playing dress up and house instead of building skyscrapers and malformed aircraft.  They scolded me in a way telling me that the dolls should be like all the other standard Lego dolls.   Someone even included a link to a YouTube video that features an attractive young women clad in a hot pink sweatshirt who traces the history of Lego and how they have consistently dismissed girls in their standard, run of the mill Lego sets and insisted that they would rather imagine and role play in a sea of pastel and home making fantasy.

Now, I remember my childhood.  I was a tom boy.  In fact, until recently, pink was my least favorite color in the spectrum.  Sure I had Barbie and My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake dolls to play with, but I also had GI Joe and He-Man and Transformers to play with.  I also had Lincoln Logs and Lego’s that were among some of my favorite toys to play with.  Never wanting a Ken doll (I guess even at 5 I suspected Ken was a little to fruity for Barbie with his kerchief, lol) I always chose to pair Barbie with GI Joe and they played in houses comprised of Lincoln Logs and Lego’s.  Gender roles never entered my mind as a young child, I dreamed of becoming a lawyer or a teacher or even President when I was little, at one point even dreaming of being a famous singer.  I wasn’t into science or I would probably have dreamed of being a doctor too.

At first I was really perturbed that my point was taken so far out of context, I mean, after all, my excitement was that they built this playland for girls with a doll that looked more realistic than a Barbie doll does but then I realized that, to some degree, they were right.  Lego has exclusively dismissed girls for the last 30 some odd years marketing their play sets to boys.  Now they have segregated the girls from the boys while enforcing to boys that they should be aggressive and combative and reiterating to girls that they are dainty and should be home minded.

I am not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, I was horrified when the government recently lifted the ban on women in combat.  I personally don’t think that women can do ANYTHING and to be honest, even if they could I don’t think they should.  But, I certainly think that there is a lack of gender neutral toys that encourage both girls and boys to create and imagine and Lego’s is the perfect platform for that imagination.  Do I think they should get rid of the Friends play sets?  No and I don’t think they should get rid of the boys playsets either, what I do think they should do is focus more on their Creator Collection which is more a throw back of bygone days and enhance this with a variety of occupations that anyone could be drawn to, like Vet or Chef or Police.

This will allow EVERYONE to “Just Imagine”

Its a Small Wonder…

2 Mar

I know I shouldn’t judge and being a survivor I shouldn’t be saying what I am I am fixing to say but its the common sense side of me that compels me to share this rant today.

dance momsWhy is it when we have little girls we sign them up for all these dance classes and pageants that all require them to dress and present themselves as much older than they really are?  Every week as the weekend approaches I find my Facebook feed cluttered with images of friends and their little girls in uniform for whatever competition that they have that weekend and most of them (although they are mostly around the 6-12 age range) all look like they are ready to work the main stage at Willie’s House of Babes.

When did it become a prerequisite to youth activities for young girls to do their hair and make up and dress like they are preparing to be sluts?  I mean, most of us, if we saw a women our own age (33 for me) dressed like this with the heavy make up would begin automatically looking for the pimp hiding around the corner for his cut of the cash so why is it OK to send our daughters out of the house like this for dance competitions?

This kind of passive aggressive acceptance of what should give you a moment’s pause is what tells our daughters that its OK to dress like a slut to get attention from people (regardless of if it is positive or negative) and puts our daughters in a place where they leave themselves open to the wrong kind of attention.  Now, I know, maybe more than most, that we should all be able to walk down Main St. in the middle of rush hour traffic buck ass naked and not have to worry about that “wrong” attention, that a man should be able to control his urges and desires to know that just because I have my boobs on display does not mean that I am asking to be raped, but sadly enough, we all know that this is not the case and now we have a generation of girls who dress for attention and don’t stop to think of the consequences of what that dress may mean.

Not just that, but we are also teaching them that what matters is, not their (fill in the blank) ability, but how physically appealing they are.  Could they not achieve the same outcome in their dance competitions with an age appropriate costume that covers everything adequately and a little bit of lip gloss?  Why is it so important that they have so much make up on and a skimpy costume that is just a little too revealing for most grown strippers, let alone a 12-year-old girl.

Parents! WAKE UP!! This is not acceptable at any age but especially not your grade school daughters! Demand that the attire be age appropriate or withdraw your child from the class and find one that is! Self respect is a wonderful thing to teach your children and it starts when you respect yourself enough to stand up for them!

You Can’t Be Your Kids Friend! Stop Trying!

12 Feb

tp-houseLast week a Tarrant County Texas court decided to indict Colleyville mother Tara Mauney on a criminal mischief charge.  Last summer Mauney was accused of leading a group of teenagers in a “prank” gone bad on a neighboring house.  What should have been a harmless episode of toilet papering a neighborhood house went awry when profanity was laced across the facade of the house in permanent marker and raw chicken parts were left in the mailbox.  $6000 worth of damage later, Mauney claims she was at home asleep when her daughter and some of her friends snuck out of the house and pulled the prank; however the courts see otherwise.  Chief in the prosecution’s evidence was store surveillance of Ms. Mauney purchasing a large amount of toilet paper at a local store earlier in the evening of the attack.  I’m not sure when buying toilet paper in bulk became a crime and even if she knew that the girls intended on TP ing the house did she know about any of the other vandalism?

But at the heart of this issue is the reader comments from the story.  There seem to be a pretty even mix of people who feel that the mom is being wrongly convicted and people who feel that the mom is guilty (even if for no other reason than the fact that she buys her TP in bulk).  I don’t really know if she was there or encouraged it or was really at home in bed asleep, nor do I really care.  But this makes me think of all the people who have kids who are trying so hard to be their friend instead of their parent.

I tried to comment on the story but for some reason I couldn’t get my comment to post.  But, if  I could have, my reply would have gone something like this;

I once had a neighbor who had that “But they are just kids” mentality all the while allowing her kids to play soccer in the front yard (even though they had a large, empty back yard). This meant that when the kids would kick the ball it would hit our cars and leave dents all over them.  My mom was notorious for telling her, “they are only kids until you teach them better!”  Its true though, you can’t blame a kid who thinks its ok to throw a fit in the middle of a store or fast food joint because they don’t know any better, they think this is ok behaviour since no one has bothered to teach them differently.  I used to get so irritated at kids who would run around and act a fool or throw fits or just in general be a brat but then I realized, they don’t know any better and I really should be upset with mom and dad for not taking the time to teach them better.

Too many times parents are concerned with their kids liking them or wanting their kids to be their friend thinking that if they are friends that their kid will tell them secrets and things that are going on in their life.  News flash people, you were not put on this earth to be your kids friend and by being the “cool” mom you are not guaranteeing that your kid is going to tell  you a damn thing about their life.  Teenagers are secretive, moody little beings whose prime goal is to irritate you.

Now, growing up, my parents gave me a healthy dose of scare and it ensured that I kept my butt out of trouble.  Sure, I lied to my mom about the theater that me and my date were going to or which of my friends would be at the mall with me but I was taught (and had the fear of God instilled in me) to know better than to allow myself to be in a position that was going to get me into real trouble.  If my date got a little too fresh or my friends decided to do something stupid that I knew better than to be a part of I would find the closest pay phone and call my mom.  The lecture that I would get for lying was much better than the one I would have gotten from my dad on the way home from the police station.  My parents were not concerned with being my friend, in fact they couldn’t have cared less if I even liked them because they knew that their job as a parent was to raise me to become a productive member of society with some common sense.  As a result of which (even though I wouldn’t have admitted it to them at the time) I respected them that much more and now that I am an adult my mom and I are pretty good friends and I feel like I can talk to her about anything and usually do.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still her child and she does annoy me sometimes but I still know that it is coming from a place of love and concern.

This isn’t just about teenagers either, you have got to start this stuff early, raise your child up with a healthy fear and respect and they will continue on this path.  Look, you can’t be a parent and a friend at the same time, it’s a conflict of interest and will result in you being walked all over and your kid getting away with murder which eventually they won’t get away with it and then you really will be wishing that you had been their parent and not their friend.  Do yourself a favor and take the higher road and be a parent, you kid will (eventually) thank you for it!

I Think He’s Talking About a Stripper, but Maybe its His Next Baby Momma

5 Jan

Just when I thought that maybe I might run out of things to write about this morning I simply had to click on yahoo to find the newest level of stupidity.  Now, I don’t think of myself as any more racist than anyone else (lets face it, if we are honest with ourselves we are all a little racist to some degree or another and not just toward the usual suspects either) but even I have to think that maybe, just maybe this bunch is asking for it.

all my baby mommasOxygen Network has picked up for its spring line up an epic failure of a TV show but not for the reasons that some are arguing.  “All My Babies’ Mamas” follows Carlos “Shawty Lo” Walker (of “Shake That Laffy Taffy” fame), a 36-year-old Atlanta-based rapper who happens to be the father of 11 children (yes, you read that right) by 10 different women. Think Real World meets Honey Boo Boo meets the Real Housewives and you might have a pretty good idea of where this show is going.

When you watch the pilot preview on YouTube you are introduced to the Baby Mama’s, all of who have been given nicknames (my favorite is the Fighter Baby Mama, least favorite is the Baby Mama from Hell) it would appear that they all at some point or another and at various times live in the 10,000+ sq.ft. Atlanta mansion with all the young’uns….. oh, yeah, and Shawty Lo’s 19 year old girlfriend (did I mention that 4 of his children are the same age as his current girlfriend?)  The show follows the daily lives and how they all interact and get along (or I am willing to bet not get along) with one another.

Now, as I would have suspected there is a petition to have this show pulled from the spring line up.  Started by Sabrina Lamb, a best-selling author, she contends that the show would exploit the pain of these children and it promotes a toxic situation to its young, impressionable female audience.  As of Friday she has received over 13,000 signatures but it would seem that the network is throwing caution to the wind on this one and to date there is no plan to pull the show.

Several prominent African-Americans have spoken out against the show comparing it to slavery and that it advocates a culture of ignorance.  Lamb is quoted as saying, “You’ve got a network with international reach telling a young female audience it’s okay to have unprotected sex, that other women are enemies, that they’re not valued by men, that their financial sustenance should come from a man, and that babies are just spectators in all of this.”  Yet I contend that this show is not the cause of this mentality.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the show is outrageous and should be pulled but not because it promotes a mentality of promiscuity but because it’s just stupid.  People like Lamb shouldn’t be outraged that this is a TV show but instead outraged that this is real life.  Sure, keeping this show off the air is a small victory and a step in the right direction but there is far too little public outcry and almost no calls to action to correct the behavior that has led to shows like this.  Shows like this don’t stereotype people, they are made because the stereotype already exists, these stereotypes are what makes these TV shows.

Most of my generation lives on this kind of television, the mindless dribble of a “reality” show that is more scripted than most sit-coms and while yes, I have been known to get caught up in the hilarity of The Robertson’s of Duck Dynasty fame I am probably one of the very few 30-something women who have never seen an episode of the Kardashian’s or Meet Honey Boo Boo.  The few times that I watched a Real Housewives of wherever I have walked away dumber than when I started.  My problem here is that this baby mama drama mentality has been around for such a long time that it is almost a status symbol to some of the Shawty Lo gang and deluding yourself into thinking that by pulling this show you are some how going to improve the maturity of an entire culture you are probably dumber than I was after watching an episode of Bad Girls Club.

If you really want to effect some change you need to get to the root of the problem.  I have said this all along, not just about the black community but about the world in general.  To find the root of the problem you need to start asking such questions as when certain behaviors became acceptable, the problems is that you are hard pressed to find someone these days who doesn’t realize that these behaviors shouldn’t be acceptable simply because that is how they were raised and it is all they know.  I don’t think shows like this glamorize this kind of life style since it has already been glamorized, how else do you explain the 10 women who have Shawty Lo’s children?  I have to believe this other wise I might lose all faith in common sense and basic human decency.

It boils down to this, we, as an entire nation, have failed to raise our children.  We stopped teaching them morals and manners and have instead left them to occupy themselves with television and video games.  Young girls don’t value themselves anymore and boys have lost that strong male role model in their lives, the two things that I think form the foundation of society.  When this foundation was lost everything else began to crumble around it.

People, teach your children, show them right from wrong, encourage them and help them become strong, responsible, productive members of society.  This is the first step in the long recovery of our sense of pride that we lost a long time ago.