I’m sure you’ve seen the story of NFL linebacker James Harrison refusing his sons participation trophies (if not, here’s a link)
I agree, to a certain extent, that kids generally don’t need a trophy or award for every single thing they do. Criticism and failure can build character and a drive to do better, I get it. Nearly all the comments I read are super positive commending Harrison for raising his kids right and having good family values (no mention of punching these same sons mother in the face several years back oddly enough). Maybe I missed something but when did a sports trophy trump our roles as parents? I mean, if you’re kid is going to be a lazy slob because they got a participation trophy when they were six, I’m sad to inform you that you’re shitty, shitty parent my friend. Could have been a Rhodes scholar if not for that damn participation trophy I got in 6th grade that made me super dumb! Trophy or no trophy, my son is going to learn about hard work from his parents. I hope what I can teach him about teamwork, dedication, and getting better at something will be more memorable than a trophy. He’s going to understand the context of such a trophy and what it may mean if he doesn’t receive a trophy. I get it, a trophy may mean less if you get one every month but I don’t see how that lessens my job to teach my child about life. But by no means will a trophy dictate the person he becomes, that’s just lazy parenting. There seems to be a lot of people who sucked at sports telling their kids how they should be recognized for participating in sports.
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I tend not to engage in social media battles about politics, religion, and the like. I don’t mind these discussions in person but sometimes the “conversations” just become personal attacks without much context. However, sometimes topics come across my timeline that are too good not to comment. I recently saw a post that got my attention. It was something I had seen several times and couldn’t let it pass without adding to the discourse. Without going into much detail, let’s just say the post was about the relevance of certain minority group organizations (NAACP, UNCF, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, etc.) today. I’m of the position that I understand why the relevance of groups like this can be confusing in a, wait for it, post-racial society. However, I will always recognize that groups like the NAACP were founded in direct response to racism and oppression rampant at the turn of the 20th century. HBCUs were created more out of necessity rather than a desire for separate education.
Suffice to say, I had a disagreement with the person who posted this picture or meme if you will. A rather tense, but civil disagreement, with both of us firmly stating our position on the issue. A few weeks have passed since the post and I saw this individual for the first time today. I was at an volunteer event for my church. I had a weird thought. Even though we strongly disagreed on a social issue, here we are. Both serving folks hot dogs on behalf of the same church in honor of the same God. We both were giving up our time to do what God has called us to do, being his hands and feet by helping others and expecting nothing in return. Why can’t the world be more like this? Why can’t we disagree on things but still be civil, especially those of us that share the same faith? No everyone won’t always agree but are we really all that different in the end?
I work in a professional office, so I tend to wear grown-up clothes most days. I don’t wear a 3 piece suit but at least a collared shirt. While walking to a meeting or lunch, something has happened to me several times but I never thought much of it. On most nice days, you can find people walking around with clipboards near major intersection, bus stops, and the like. They are usually trying to get people to do one of two things: 1) sign up for the affordable care act (Obamacare in lay terms) or 2) sign up for government sponsored cell phone (an Obama phone for those unfamiliar). The solicitors aren’t overly aggressive but they do a good enough job making their presence felt. Most recently, I was waiting to cross the street and right on cue, one of the folks asked the lady next to me if she needed a cell phone. She was a white female, maybe 30, wearing pink sweats and a white t-shirt that (hand to God) had that picture of 2pac and Suge Knight the night Pac was shot in Vegas. She mumbled something, her face letting you know she wasn’t interested, in a hurry, or both. The clipboard lady kinda smiled and said thanks and moved her eyes towards me. I was getting my iPhone speech ready in my head and was more than prepared to let her know I was more than happy with iOS 8. Our eyes met briefly and she looked like she was going to say something but she didn’t. She turned and found another prospect a few steps behind me.
What the hell? How does she know I don’t need one of those phones? I went ahead a crossed the street but on the way back something dawned on me. I had judged clipboard lady, expecting she was going to judge me and assume I needed a free phone. She did judge me but not how I expected. She took one look at those wingtips and figured I wouldn’t be interested. It’s odd how stereotypes and implicit bias work. I could have been miffed that someone approached a young black guy assuming he couldn’t afford a cell phone (as if that would be the only reason she would approach). But I was also confused by her judging me positively and not approaching me at all. Can’t have it both ways now can I? I think we all need to be more aware of our implicit and subconscious bias and how it can affect how we see the world.
It’s crazy to think about my son getting a haircut. Just a few months ago I was calling him “baldielocks” for his patchy hairdo. What I didn’t think about how he gets a haircut. Does he go to a barber like me and get a fade with the sideburns pointed? Or does he go to a “stylist” like his mom goes to? Suffice to say, the result will be very different. One of the funny things about having a mixed kid. There’s things my son may experience as result of being a white person that I haven’t experienced and visa versa for my wife. That is something, to be honest, that I’m just starting to get used to. It’s not necessarily a negative but I’m just adjusting to the fact my son will see the world (and be seen by the world) differently than I do.
I loathe grocery shopping with basically every fiber in my body. It’s not that I don’t like food (I love it a little too much). I just don’t like to see how much money goes towards food. I’m lucky to have a wife that does 85% of our grocery shopping. But the 15% I do partake in I really let get the best of me. I hate playing nice with the cashier when she says “So how’s your day going, did you find everything you need?” No, I did not. I did not find the aisle that had a bunch of free food in it so no I’m not having a good day. I enjoy a good discount so the only satisfaction I do get from shopping is using coupons or loyalty cards. I do, however, dislike when I have to present said loyalty card PRIOR to beginning my transaction or the cashier treats me like a criminal (talking to you Giant Eagle). The only joy I have at this place is seeing my total decrease after scanning my card and you want to rob me of that too?
My favorite part of grocery shopping is when you a stranger become one and shop at the same pace for 30 minutes? Please don’t pretend I’m the only one. We’ve all walked in and from the bananas all the way to the rotisserie chicken at checkout, you and some random do an awkward two-step up and down the aisles. You reach for the rice, the reach for the rice. You like 2% cheddar cheese? Funny, so do they. “Excuse me, sorry, just gonna squeeze by ya. I love nutter butters” he says. I want nothing more than to burn his shopping list. Get away from me. It’s like driving on the highway with a car and you’ve both got the cruise set to 74 (I’m sure this is the literal meaning of hell on earth).
Even though it’s a pain, grocery shopping is one of life’s most overlooked blessings, especially in the USA. 70% of the world can’t even predict where there next meal is coming from and I have disposable income to spend on food from the grocery store and numerous fine take out establishments. As much as I don’t want to go to the grocery store, I have no reason to complain. So my goal next time is, even if it’s stressful, remember how blessed I am to be there in the first place.
Our son, almost 8 months old, is constantly learning. I’m fascinated by his fascination with the most basic things. A car starting, the sound the ice machine makes, my playstation controller (usually while I’m trying to use it). Not even a year old, he is getting less and less reliant on his old man. I thought this was a something that I had a few years to prepare myself for? Yes, he still wears diapers which need changed (constantly) but everyday he’s becoming more independent. He tries to stand up whenever he can and he loves trying to take the spoon you are using to feed him. I guess he figures he can do it better. There are, of course, times when he can’t quite do something he tries. With each attempt to do something new, I have to remind myself not to interfere too much with his own discovery when he can’t figure it out on the first try. It’s a constant battle between allowing him to learn and avoiding a trip to the ER. When he was trying to stand up on a toy he got for Christmas, it was killing me not to just nudge his leg just a little and move his hips just right so he could do it easier. That’s not to say I’m advocating leaving him with a few bottles of milk and a pack of diapers and saying have at it. I just hope I can keep reminding myself how much better he will be for knowing he’s smart enough to tackle challenges on his own. His old man will always be there if he needs me.