Sunday, September 25, 2005

Did It For The Wrong Reason

My kids only get toys on their birthday and Christmas.

Occassionally, Grandama will show up bearing gifts. But lets be honest, there is no stopping a force of nature like a grandmother.

Tonight, I took the boys to Target to buy a few things we needed for the week. It has been a long weekend filled with soccer practice, soccer games, tantrums, Boy Scout events and fundraisers. My wife had spent half the day with my oldest helping to supervise the Boy Scout annual pizza fundraiser. I could tell she needed a break and her fibro was bad. We both needed a break.

So wanting to be Superman, savior of the day and an overall good guy I scooped the kids up and off we went. I got a bit frustrated and confused in the hair care aisle trying to juggle coupons and searching for a certain styling gel. As a bald man, this concept is completely lost on me. My youngest was knocking things off the shelf saying "uh oh" while my oldest was continuing a sentence that he started on thursday about the virtues of Pokemon . As I bent down to pick up the items the baby had knocked down I almost passed out from the aroma radiating from his posterior. I swear his diaper looked swollen to four times its normal size. I looked up at him and he smiled as he said "hi there". Soon panic set in. You guessed right. I left the diaper bag at home.

Off I went streaming through the store and the rest of my list. I needed to get out of there before somebody picked up the scent and reported me to the Depratment of Homeland Security for hiding a chemical weapon in my sons pants. My oldest boy was struggling to keep up, never skipping a beat in his description of his latest Pokemon battle. All the while I was searching for an Air Wick scented oil refill, deodorant and diaper wipes. The baby meanwhile was not quite aware of his predicament and was saying "hi" to every cute girl that walked by. As soon as they paused to smile at him the lovely baby essence would strike their nostrils and I got the stink eye for being a bad daddy. Such is the plight of the uber domesticated man.

Anyhizzle, by this time I'm sweating and I still can't find the toothpaste that was on sale that I have a double coupon for. No bother, I'll get it next time because by this time it was 7:30 and I've still got to get the kids home, bathed and showered, have our bible time and get them in bed by 8 p.m. I manage to slow to a jog and put a little more interest into the conversation that my oldest boy has been basically having with himself for the last twenty minutes. We happen to swing by the toy section out of pure coincidence and he asked if he could see if they had the new Bionicle series. He loves to build things, it is just the way his mind works. I love that about him. We found the right aisle and they had one last version of the thing he had been looking for for some time. He stared at it longingly. To his credit, he never asked for a thing. He knows the rule.

Something inside me said "Come on, just buy it for him".

I wanted to buy it for him because I wanted to do something nice for him that I knew he would like. I wanted to do it because I felt bad we had not spent a lot of time together this weekend, because his mom was sick with pain, because I rushed him around the store on a school night. I wanted to make it all up to him and I saw the toy as a way to accomplish that.

Visions of the episode of the Brady Bunch where Mike and Carol are on the verge of buying Bobby the coolest bike in the world to "win him over for life". They pause as they think about their motives. The Bradies were wiser than me for they resisted the guilt purchase.

I did it for the wrong reasons. Guilt. Self-loathing. Pick your descriptor.

I promised myself that I would never be that kind of parent. I have failed miserably.

Peace to all.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Whole New World

You know that you are the father of two boys when. . .

You buy two boxes of your favorite cereal and only get one bowl before it is all gone.

Ian, pray for girls.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A New Storm. . . On the Right

From the LA Times:

APPARENTLY, IT took divine intervention in the form of Hurricane Katrina to make George W. Bush, the compassionate conservative, aware of the existence of poor people in our midst."As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality," said a president who has not only overseen a nearly 9% income decline for the poorest fifth of the nation's population but won the job boasting of his record as governor of a state that census figures show has the fifth-highest poverty level and highest percentage of citizens lacking medical insurance.

Unfortunately, the president still seems to believe that the severe poverty of New Orleans is an anomaly exposed by the storm, rather than a disturbing national reality he should have long since confronted. One wishes he would take to heart the words Bishop T.D. Jakes of Dallas offered before Bush spoke at the National Cathedral on Friday: "Katrina, perhaps she has done something to this nation that we needed to have done. She has made us think, and look, and reach beyond the breach." He also noted: "We can no longer be a nation that overlooks the poor and the suffering and continue past the ghetto on our way to the Mardi Gras, or past Harlem for Manhattan, or past Compton for Rodeo Drive."Of course, it should not have taken a devastating hurricane to reveal to our president the depth of human misery in a nation that could easily afford to have no poor people. Perhaps Bush simply hasn't fallen far enough from the tree, considering it was famously said of his father that he was a man who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. His even more clueless mother thinks letting devastated African American evacuees sleep in the Astrodome worked out "very well for them" because they "were underprivileged anyway."

One would have hoped that the avowedly "born again" younger Bush would have witnessed the disconnect between the teachings of the son of God, which repeatedly counsel aiding the poor and vulnerable, and his own family's "let them eat cake" approach to governance. After all, 37 million Americans — 13 million of them children — are living in poverty, 4.5 million more than when Bush was first inaugurated. This sad fact is never mentioned when the president trumpets the alleged benefits of his tax cuts for the rich."This is a matter of public policy," Bill Clinton said on Sunday, belatedly challenging the government's woeful response to the hurricane. "And whether it's race-based or not, if you give your tax cuts to the rich and hope everything works out all right, and poverty goes up and it disproportionately affects black and brown people, that's a consequence of the action made. That's what they did in the '80s; that's what they've done in this decade." The man should know. After all, though he hardly solved the issue in downtrodden Arkansas or the country, poverty levels did significantly decline during his presidency (from 15.1% of the population in 1993 to 11.3% in 2000). Bush may be getting the message that government is not the enemy. But forced by his worst political crisis to suggest that government has a major role to play in not only reconstructing the Gulf Coast but also in confronting the reality of a patently unequal playing field, the president has angered "Reagan revolution" conservatives.

For example, conservative pundit George Will, frightened that Bush's promise to significantly assist the devastated Gulf Coast might unleash a new wave of social spending, rushed last week to assert the pervasive myth that this nation has a level playing field. Staying out of poverty is simple, he argued, if you just follow "three not-at-all recondite rules: … Graduate from high school, don't have a baby until you are married, don't marry while you are a teenager." But do Will and his ilk really believe a child raised in foster homes and juvenile hall, or an 85-year-old living on Social Security, can so simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Sadly enough, it may be harder to get conservative journalists or politicians into the world of a junior high school kid in an impoverished neighborhood than to get a camel through the eye of a needle.

Now, if you bothered to read the article you may have noticied the connection the author made between Bush's confession of faith and his lack of living that faith through his actions. This is the kind of stuff I have been talking about. George Bush is bad for Christianity and a poor example of living a sacrificial life that is centered on serving others, especially those in society who are most vulnerable. Others are noticing what Christians should have recognized long ago.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Today's Headline

From the LA Times:

Schwarzenegger Running for Reelection

Just one more reason to leave California. Soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hip Hop Rant

I hate Hip Hop.

No, I loathe it and the whole Hip Hop sub culture. Now when I say sub, I mean it in its traditional defintion as in under, below or beneath what is considered culture.

I despise the same back beat to most songs of the genre. True, there can be some creativity in mixing and sampling, but overall, it all sounds like the same or similar arrangement.

I cannot stand the mutilation of the english language that has been spawned due to the rise of Hip Hop. I'm tired of the made up words.

The fact that some words have had their historical meanings molested makes me burn. Words like ghetto are now referenced in ways that would make any Holocaust survivor cringe. Pimp no longer means a man who sexually exploits a woman for profit and abuses her, but rather a guy who is good with women. Puke.

I am disgusted with the desensitizing of youth toward sex that has been accelerated with the increased popularity of Hip Hop, fueled by the lyrical content and pornographic music videos. Nearly every song I hear is about sex, group sex, booty, coochie, getting your drink on, flashing that bling or taking your homie's girl home with you. In addition, the sexual imagery that is projected only feeds into young girls physical insecurities encouraging them to dress more and more provacative, act more physically assertive, cast off previous notions about chastity and lower their standards in the dating arena.

It saddens me to see young men, encouraged by the culture to increasingly view young women as objects to be used for physical gratification. If the hoochies in the video give it up, I bet that girl in Algebra class will too.

I am sickened by the glorification of the thug.

I am annoyed by some in the African American intelligentsia that try to tell me that Hip Hop is some great, over arching urban narrative and therefore a positive cultural expression that I have no right as a white oppressor to criticize. Bull!

I'm tired of hearing that I'm white and I just don't get it. True, I'm not black. Most of the neighborhoods I grew up in were predominantly black and Mexican. I understand what it is to be poor. I understand the feeling of thinking there is no way out. The black thing, you've got me on. But this line of thinking promotes the fallacy that the only way black people can communicate musically is through foul language, child abandonment, the relentless pursuit of materialism and objectifying women. I don't buy that. What about John Lee Hooker, Nat King Cole, B.B. King or Ray Charles just to name a few?

It disturbs me that the vast majority of pop culture is being determined by 13% of the population.

I am tired of white, Asian and Latino kids talking like they're black. I know black people who are tired of it too.

Now some who have the courage to keep reading might think that every generation of older people(I'm only 35) has said things of this nature about the young people and their music. True, and it is not that other genres of music are without flaw. It just seems that with this current pop culture it seems worse. I even spoke to several more level headed people who are older than me and have weathered storms of this nature before. They tend to agree that elements of Hip Hop sub-culture appear to feed some of the more base instincts of our nature.

What are we to do?

My kids are going to eventually grow up and may like music that I find objectionable. What'll I do then? Should parents of teenagers now prohibit Hip-Hop in their house if they find the message contradicting the values they are trying to instill in children?

There, I think I'm done.

Peace to all.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Cruising at the Speed of the 21st Century

Like being delivered from the dark ages of cyberspace. . . I finally have DSL!

Webpages literally load in the blink of an eye.

I can download pictures and artwork for lesson plans with ease.

I can watch streaming video feed from my favorite news sites.

I can even be on the phone while I'm online.

What a great day!

Monday, September 05, 2005

It's All Over But the Crying

I've emptied and stored the kids pool I set up before July 4th.

I've used the last bag of charcoal briquettes.

The Aim n' Flame I bought in June has finally been spent of its fuel.

The lawn chairs have been stored in their appropriate place.

The ice cream truck that rambles through our neighborhood now makes its rounds less often.

It is Labor Day weekend. The end of summer.

Tomorrow I go back to work and the day after that, I greet my students.

It is all over but the crying.

Though the summer has been productive, I already miss it.

I finished painting the hallway I started two years ago.

I fixed the sink in the bathroom, cleared our side yard, cleaned the garage, planted a tree and built an arbor.

In the past three months my oldest boy passed the next level of swim class which means he can now go boogie boarding with me. The baby has added over a dozen words to his vocabulary and my wife has realized her dream of becoming a classroom teacher.

The next ten months will pass in a flurry of meetings, lesson plans, tests, parent conferences and more meetings.

Summer, I shall miss thee.

Be well all.