Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tacky, Tacky, Tacky

I bought five bars of evil smelling soap recently. I thought I was buying something similar to the handmade soaps sold at the Farmer’s Market this summer. Instead, it was perfume-laden gunk with colors inspired by Barnum and Bailey. I was in a quandary about what to do with this stuff until I attended a wedding last week.

The handsome, virile man that I married, seeing I was busy the Saturday morning of the wedding offered to pick up a wedding present while he was in town running some of his errands. I jumped at that offer. The wedding invitation helpfully advised that the wedding couple was registered at a store close to a hardware store, so my better-half set off for town in a state of contentment. He came home some time later with a gift, complete with gift bag.

Unsatisfied with the array of towels and dishes that the happy couple picked out, he, being male, settled on set of knives on their list. We have been married for over thirty years, and we would trade a trip to Tahiti for a set of knives that expensive. Since I need this guy’s help with anything that requires brute force, I bit my tongue, filled out a card, and set off for the wedding.

We deposited our gift on the display table, where the table guardian instructed us to take a rolled up piece of paper wrapped with a ribbon. Apparently after opening all those wedding gifts, a few modern brides are too exhausted to indulge in the traditional nicety of acknowledging gifts by thank you notes. So, instead of a thank you note, guests receive a ribbon-wrapped piece of paper. On the paper is a Xeroxed poem that usually starts something like this, “Thank you for your special gift….” What rhymes with tacky?

Not long after the wedding, I bought the soap-from-hell with Christmas gifts in mind. Since I want my family and close friends to like me, I knew Christmas giving was out. I was baffled about whose life I could grace with this splendid endowment. Fortunately, my mate has flashes of brilliance. He said, “We could give it as wedding gifts.” I was about to nay-say the suggestion when I remembered the tacky “thank-you-poem-in-lieu-of-note.” I looked at my husband and said, “We could give a bar of soap to people who give poems as thank you notes!” He responded, “We’ll buy a good gift, but leave it in the car. You can carry the soap in your purse. If we get handed a poem, we’ll give them the soap.” I love it when a plan comes together.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dog Lovers

Pippi and me are not the first dog lovers in the family. Front row middle and front row right depict ancestors from the 1800's who seemed to like their dogs.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

High School Sports: Seven Facts for Parents

1) The coaches lie to you at the first parent meeting. When the coach tells the parents, "If you have any questions or concerns, please come and talk to me," don't believe it. It's a lie. Don't EVER do this. They say this because it sounds reasonable and good, but they don't mean one word of it. They don't even want to know who you are. If you come to them with a concern, they will penalize that child, and any other children you have coming up probably won't make the team.

2) If a kid's parents are teachers at the high school, that kid will make the team and will play. It doesn't matter how good he/she is.

3) If you are a Mom and want to be popular with the other parents, i.e. Moms, you have to do all the team support activities they dream up. If you don't do all that stuff, you won't be liked. Most of the activity-doing parents won't even talk to you. A few will be blatantly rude and hostile. This is their attempt to make you get in line. Ostensibly, their reasoning for being rude to you is that you must not care about your kid if you don't decorate lockers, make treats for the bus, go to the home game basketball dinners etc. They won't look at anything else that you do or have done that shows you care. The only barometer of caring is your participation in the activities they create. If you are a Dad, you can decline to do the activities without penalty.

4) Parents wanting to escalate the number and frequency of activities always win out over parents wanting to scale down the parent activities.

5) If the coach has a kid on the team, that kid will be favored. Coaches will swear this isn't true. They will declare they are harder on there own kids than the other players, etc. They may be harder on their own kid at practice, but the coach's kid will get the majority of playing time in a game, no matter how good another player in the same slot is. Ask about Coach Keller and his boys if you don't believe me, or just observe this situation. You'll find I'm right.

6) It isn't about building character, it's about winning. I wish I had a dollar for everyone who justified the amount of money and time devoted to sports in the schools. The justification is that kids build character by participating and learn skills that cross over into their adult life by their sports participation. The question is: are coaches teaching good character values and beneficial skills? There are a few coaches who have a firm belief in honesty, integrity, fairness, faith, and priorities. These coaches can build good character in their players because they have good character themselves. My observation is that most contemporary high school coaches don't have a solid understanding of what good character is, but they do understand winning and losing.

7) High School sports participation will probably not be the most positive experience a child has in high school. I found that my kids had more positive experiences and more caring mentors when they participated in music and drama. I will admit, though, that having a child in sports has immeasurably more prestige than participation in the other activities. Overall, I believe if a child wants to participate in sports, he should do it because he loves it. Parents should support their kids in the way that parents believe is most beneficial to the child. Maybe the over-arching lesson here is that both parents and kids have to think for themselves and make their own decisions, regardless of peer pressure.