Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Busing Them Off

Dear School Bus Drivers,

            I’m a teacher and a parent, but at the risk upsetting my constituents, I'm asking you to consider the following suggestion: The next time you’re waiting at a stop for a late student and the kid comes (meat) loafing down the sidewalk like he has all the time in the world, drive off and leave his lazy butt behind!

I'm sure you must have to bite your toungue as you bide your time waiting on these kids, because I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to sit in my car watching some punk slowly walking down the road while the rest of the world waits behind your flashing red lights. And it honestly has nothing to do with making me late for work. A few lost minutes isn’t going to make a difference in my day, I just can’t stand the smug, screw you looks on their faces as they saunter down the street like they’re the only ones that matter.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is commendable that you are willing to patiently and politely wait for these pokey passengers, but in the long run, you’re really not doing them, or us, any favors. For one thing, the real world is not going sit idly by while they leisurely go about their business, and the sooner they realize this, the better. Plus, if they’re showing such little respect and consideration for you, the kids on the bus, and the people behind it now, can you imagine what they’ll be like as adults?

I know nobody’s perfect, and we all oversleep from time to time. But when we’re running late, we literally run. Yet these kids just shuffle along like they’re doing you a favor by boarding your bus.  They expect you to be on time, don’t they? And they’re the first to complain when you’re ten seconds late, right? So if I were you, the next time I spotted some slug strolling down the street, I’d shut the door and hit the gas. Then maybe next time they’ll put a little zip in their doo dah.

Of course I know you value your jobs way too much to actually heed my words, but if you are crazy enough to try it out (and some of you are!) please make sure your first victim isn’t some kid on crutches, or a chubby kid making an effort to hurry it up.  And if he or she happens to be handicapped, or the only minority kid on your route, you should probably wait for them as well. But anyone else is fair game.

            They need to realize that “No Child Left Behind” only applies in the classroom, and in order to get there, they need to move their behinds a little quicker to get to the bus on time.  

                                                                        Tired of seeing red,

                                                                                                            Mike Wood

Monday, October 10, 2011

Seeing Red

Is the phrase Indian Summer as racially insensitive as Indian Giver? I hope not, as I have no other way to describe the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had over the past few days – coincidentally over Columbus Day weekend. And since we all know how he treated the Indians, I want to ensure that I am being sensitive and politically correct in my wording. If our children are now being told to sit criss cross apple sauce, instead of Indian style, then maybe I should mind my manners as well.

It’s a good thing I’m not an Atlanta Braves fan, who routinely mine, or mock, the Native American culture with their “Tomahawk Chop” and Chief Noc-A-Homa mascot. Or a Cleveland Indians fan, with their racially insensitive Chief Wahoo logo. As for the Washington Redskins, while their logo seems respectful enough, their name leaves a lot to be desired. Redskins? Really? They claim it honors the Native American cultures, but I’m not convinced.  They also point out that very few Native Americans have complained, which I’m sure is true, seeing as how the majority of them have been wiped out! And the rest are too busy running their casinos to worry about it.

Oops, did I just make a joke? Was it insensitive to portray the surviving members of our once proud Indian tribes as casino operators?  Probably. Was it funny? Not really. Is it true? Sort of.

And therein lies the problem with political correctness. In order to avoid upsetting anyone with “insensitive” comments, one has to sidestep the truth and skip over the obvious, and to me, that’s more demeaning than just being honest.  Is it really better to ignore all the bad things that have happened in the past and pretend like all is forgotten?  And if so, then what happens to the good things?

From what I’ve seen in museums, many Indians did sit on the ground with their legs crossed.  So why can’t our kids sit Indian style? And apparently scalping was a common practice, so if I want to complain about a bad haircut, is it really hurting an Indian’s feelings? Or the hairdressers?

As for the color thing, I can sort of understand and respect the argument that for, say, the black community, phrases like “black list” and “black ball” and “black sheep” seem to imply that black equals bad. And most of the “red” phrases aren’t much better. Getting caught red handed is bad. Being in the red is bad. Red tape? Bad. Red flag? Bad. The problem is, this same argument could be used with any color: a white elephant is something that has no value, white bread is considered plain and boring, and a white flag is used to quit or surrender. While on the flip side, getting invited to a black tie affair and receiving the red carpet treatment are good things.

At the end of the day, we just need to respect each other as individuals. Color and culture shouldn’t define who we are or decide whom we associate with. If we can feel comfortable with each other, we can laugh at, and with, each other. Admit it, Chief Noc-a-homa is a funny name. And if we all started looking for the humor in things, we might be less likely to find hate.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Have We Met?

My son, Eli, after over two years, decides that TODAY he is going to attach himself to a stuffed animal. Or in his case, a stuffed Mr. Met. As the picture above clearly shows, at 6 months of age, he LOVED Mr. Met. For about 3 minutes. Long enough to take some cute pictures. But since then,  he has shown no affinity for blankies, bears, woobies, or lovies. Then came this morning.

It was "Bring Your Favorite Stuffed Animal to School" day, and not wanting him to be left out, I coaxed him into choosing one to bring to school - after digging out the box of teddy bears from his closet, where they have been for over a year since we moved. He rejected the Jerry Bear I offered. Dismissed the manatee I held up. Shook his head at the fluffy lamb. But agreed to take Mr. Met.

Eight hours later, he was still clinging to him. They played together, Napped together. Went to the potty together. I took him shopping with me after work, and Mr. Met came with us. And until ten minutes ago, he was in the crib with him.

I'm not sure if this makes me a bad dad or not, but I just now snuck in and quietly removed Mr. Met from beside my sleeping son and stuffed him back in the closet. This pains me as a Met fan, but I really don't want my kid lugging around a stuffed animal. Or mascot. I figure if he's made it this far, why mess with success? But I leave it up to you. Did I do the right thing?


CODA:Most of you will be happy to know that at 6:15 this morning, when I went upstairs to wake Eli  for school, he popped right up and immedietely started looking around his crib. He lifted his pillow. He checked under his blanket. "Where's Met?" he asked. I instantly caved and said, "Maybe he went back in the closet." I made a show of being surprised that he was in there and handed him over to my happy boy. What the hell, I figured.  Chances are this will be the only pleasure he ever gets from the Mets, so might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Reunited and it feels so good!