Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Said It's Too Dangerous

What is it about kids, when you tell them something is dangerous, it makes them want to do it that much more? Our trampoline is in disrepair. The safety net that enclosed the trampoline got torn in several places (because our wild kids and their friends would throw themselves at the safety net and bounce off again), so we took it off. The bumper pads that cover the springs, have come to pieces in spots and it needs to be replaced. I mentioned this to my husband, the fact that we needed to get a new safety net and bumper pads, because the kids hadn't jumped on the trampoline in months. Well wouldn't you know, they all heard me complain about how dangerous it was to have this thing on the hard concrete in our back yard, so they just had to all pile on it, husband included.

One of their favorite trampoline games is "crack the egg", and the 2nd favorite one is "flip the bacon". I won't tell you the rules, but you can imagine how safe those games are in this trampoline. When the yard apes finish off this trampoline, I guess we'll get another one. Until then, I'll just keep the video camera close by and maybe you'll see us on " America's Funniest Home Video's".

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Whose Race Is This Anyway

The Pinewood Derby is an annual event that kicks up a lot of excitement in our Cub Scout community. This year was my son's third year to race and he captured 3rd place in his age level. I thought his car was great and he had fun building it. He was not entirely happy with his placement, you might notice the attitude in the post race picture and the crossed arms as he's receiving his award. Last year he got 1st place in his age group and was on top of the world, but that's how it is when your the car to beat! Competition gets more intense every year.

This year we had his den over to our house to cut out and sand the body of thier pinewood derby cars. One of my son's friends (actually his mother) made a point to get my husband to cut out a car identical to my son's winning car from last year. That car captured first place in the race, and my son noticed. He was a good sport about it, but he learned not to share his racing secrets with anyone (yes, there are racing secrets and it's very confidential I might add!) The Cub Scouts have to check in their cars the day before the race. At check in everyone has the opportunity to get a look at the competition, and I have learned enough about pinewood derbys that I can spot the potential winning cars. I can spot the winning families by how much graphite they have under their fingernails (including me, my husband, and my son in that order I might add, and that leads me to make the statement "Whose Race is this?"). The top cars are usually within a few tenths of a second difference in times, so you can imagine how competetive it can become.

The races are run very well with a computer software measuring the finishes. It's quite a thrill to see the times flashed up on the video screen that's set up for the fans. Racing music plays in the background while parents and kids all fill up on pizza and coke. Oh, the thrill of victory.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

When I was color blind

I've waited a month to post this post, because I was not sure I knew how to properly write about this subject, yet I feel drawn to talk about it considering the geographical closeness of this incident to my neighborhood.

Until recently, I had never spent much time contemplating race relations in our country or in our town. I grew up in a predominately white community and I don't remember any children of color attending my school until I reached Junior High. The most unhomogeneous aspect of the community was the answer to this question: "are you Catholic or Protestant?". Unbeknownst to me, in the late 60'2 and early 70's, a whole flurry of activity was swirling around in the world outside of my bubble...from the hippies and Woodstock, to the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement and Watergate.

When I was in third grade we studied slavery in the south and I was horrified when I found out that white people had black people as slaves. It was news to me. I can remember being ashamed to be white, and thinking what in the world were those people thinking. I was immediately determined to be nice and befriend any black kids that came my way, but in actuality, I never ran into any, and so I bopped along oblivious to the events happening in the world around. They say "ignorance is bliss" and it was for a time.

When I got to High School, I was still unbelievably niave and so were my friends. I know that now, because that's when my friend Michelle and I looked at each other and I realized she was Hispanic and she realized I was white. Until High School apparently I had been color blind and so had my friend. That's because friendship trumps color everytime.

Before you get the impression that I've never experienced anything outside of the little bubble of my community, I have to say that when I went to college, I was in the minority. My classmates were Syrian, Iraqui, Iranian, Jordanian and Israeli, Chineese and Japaneese and they were all men. That's what you got when you went to any Engineering School 25 years ago. Suddenly I didn't have that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing and understanding where people were coming from. What my classmates thought about the world around us was very different from what I thought about the world around us.

But I've drifted from my subject...the topic of what has happend in our town recently. A black man and his girlfriend bought a house on the street that I grew up on, and not long after that a fire destroyed the house. They had origionally planned on tearing down the house and rebuilding a new house on that spot, so that is what they did, they took the insurance money from the fire and began construction. It has taken them two years to get to the point that they are now, in building their house, yet the house is still under construction and they have still not moved in.

A neighbor lady (white) was walking her dogs in the neighborhood (off leash which is against the law in our town) and the lady(black) who is the girlfriend of the man building the house happened to be in her front yard and there was a confrontation and the white lady (who happens to be a 60+ senior citizen) hit the black lady with a 2 by 4 that was laying in the front yard. The black lady ended up in the hospital. Jeff Foxworthy and his "you might be a redneck if..." comes to mind as I'm writing this.

Even though our town is big, it still has that smalltown feel to those of us who grew up here. I happen to know the family of the white lady. But on with the story...not long after this incident someone painted words on the black mans garage door. I've cut out one of the inflamatory words, because I don't want to post something like that, but here's his garage door: The neighborhood, made up of little old retired folks and widows, was sincerely saddened and shocked that this happened to that man. I know that because my parents live within sight of this house. Most of the retired folks keep to themselves and don't get out much, because frankly they might just fall down with their walkers and hurt themselves. It is yet to be determined who may have done the graffiti, but the little old lady that's white, is the prime suspect (apparently she had been in jail they had let her out of jail , maybe good behavior, I don't know and then hauled her off again when the words appeared on the garage door).

To make a long story, longer, the black man did not immediatly paint over this graffiti, but left it up for weeks, causing his neighbors, who had originally been concerned for him, to become agitated with him. Apparently he had no intention of painting over the graffiti, but gathered together some folks from the NAACP and they had a big march through the neighborhood (how'd you like to live in that neighborhood?).

Needless to say, the neighborhood folks were not happy about the organized march and having to look at his garage door for weeks. In addition, all the uproar over the graffiti, caused people to forget that there was a lady who had been hit with a 2 by 4 on the street! The doors are now covered with a blue tarp, some folks from a nearby church convinced him to cover over the words, while he's waiting on replacement doors. When the replacements arrive he has decided to donate the old doors to a civil rights museum in another southern state. For awhile, things were hoppin' in the little old neighborhood, with police in patrol cars watching the house 24/7, but all that has passed and the neighborhood talk and all the activity has died down. I feel bad for the man and his girlfriend, and I feel bad for the neighbors who had to see those words everyday and host a march in their quiet neighborhood.

It's too bad we have to grown up and realize each others differences. Things would be much simpler if we were all color blind.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Pick Me Pick Me

Have you ever wanted something so badly, but when you got it, it turned out that it wasn't all that great after all? My daughter has experienced that recently. She finally got chosen for Safety Patrol duty. Can you tell she didn't want her picture taken? At first it was a coveted appointment until she realized that she had to be at school 30 minutes earlier than usual, and it has gotten quite chilly around here in the mornings. The prestige of waving a stop sign and blowing a whistle has gone by the wayside, as early morning fatigue sets in. She has four more weeks before she is relieved of duty.