The Tooth Fairy Replies.

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Not the Tooth Fairy / Photo by KidZond.

 

Dear Kayla,

As you know, your little sister lost another tooth. She is a very inquisitive child and wrote me a letter. I saw that you also wrote me a letter, even though you have had your adult teeth for some 12 years now. But even though you are 24 years of age, soon to be a mother yourself, I figured it would be okay to break protocol and respond to your letter.

Do you remember me?

Yes I do. I remember every child I have collected baby teeth from over my many magical years of service to humanity. Losing baby teeth is part of a childs journey into adulthood. With each tooth a little piece of their childhood is relegated to the past and they begin taking steps to becoming an adult.

Parents celebrate this passage by calling upon my services. I am a marker of time, a reminder that these precious moments are fleeting, and those pictures of gap tooth smiles, will too soon be replaced with pictures of other firsts. Pictures with a full set of adult teeth shining back.

I heard you’re giving out $2 now, what is that about? I got 50 cents and no letter!

Times change, prices change, children change. Your father received a quarter. You received 50 cents, your sister $2. Not every child gets $2, some get nothing. Life, is anything but fair.

In the grand scheme of things monetary gifts for a baby tooth comes under the category of It is the Thought that Counts. To carry on the tradition keeps me in the hearts of children, it gives them the power of imagination. That, is an awesome power. Without that power, humanity would never move forward. As silly as a Tooth Fairy may seem to you now that you are an adult, I, along with my other magical comrades, have a lasting impact on you. Even after I have faded from your personal beliefs.

You don’t write or call anymore.

No, but I will visit you one day. I will come to you in around 8 to 9 years hence when you must do your part of my job. It is a bargain we made, that I will exist in the hearts and minds of your children, and you will do the physical labor of my job. You may not find it fair, you may question if it is worth it for me to visit. Yet it is. I will bring a joy to bright little eyes, opening up a world of possibilities and of…Magic.

For in life, it is the dreamers that set the pace for humanity. They are the ones that ask the greatest question…What if? They will be the ones that discover medicines that will alleviate humanities ills, they will push the boundaries and reach for the stars, they will seek out solutions when others doubt solutions will ever be found. Dreamers are the ones who seek equality for the human condition. They are the ones that remember me the most. They believe that anything is possible.

While yes, in time, I will be relegated to the fond memories of childhood. Lose my magical abilities and be forgotten in the adult mind. It is the lasting impression, and that little smile on your adult children’s lips when they find the teeth that you requested I give back to you, in a small box, that you have kept as a keepsake. For in that moment, magic will once again be real, and they will know that I will be there for their children.

 

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Remember the Magic words, Please and Thank You…unless you’re Autistic.

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Alexis and BenBen / Photo by KidZond.

By Js Kendrick

 

I had a little eye opener yesterday at my daughter’s therapy session. We were discussing her habit of not saying ‘Please’ or ‘Thank You’. I found it rather odd that she seems to refuse to say these common niceties. The reason behind her refusal has always eluded me.

I was raised saying Please and Thank You, my Mother had always demanded courtesy from us, and it would even go so far as to not pass a dish at the dinner table because I didn’t say ‘please’. This was how I was raised, and of course, this is how I raise my children. Even my eldest daughter has carried on this courtesy with her children. I wouldn’t say our family is obsessive about it, but good manners usually opens doors in life. People appreciate being treated politely.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise at my consternation when my youngest daughter would refuse to say those words. She has had this habit for as long as I can remember. When she was younger, I didn’t put much thought into it. Four year olds tend to forget, so you remind them. However it was around seven that I noticed she refused to say Thank You. Please would only come out on rare occasions. I worked with her, withholding items till she said the magic words, but she only did it begrudgingly.

It was last year, when she was eight, that the problem became more than learning, more than some sort of joke to her. She wouldn’t say it for the life of her. Alexis seemed more upset that I wanted her to say Please and Thank You, than I was she didn’t.

“Alexis, if you want me to get you a glass of milk, say the magic word.” I would say. Then one day she looked at me and said the magic word.

“Abracadabra.” She said. I laughed, probably shouldn’t have, but it was funny. That became her ‘Please’. She started to use the magic word every time.

I still worked on Please, even discussed with her that while Abracadabra is the ‘magic’ word it wasn’t what I meant by magic word. But to Alexis, Abracadabra is the factual magic word. 

The term “Magic Words” came from my mother. When my sister Karen was going to Kindergarten there was a sign above the classroom door.

“Remember the Magic Words: Please and Thank You!” 

My mother, always into manners, remembered that phrase and quoted it often. My mother was no Miss Manners, but she did believe in being polite. Until she was mad, then it was best to run. politeness took a backseat for a bit.

I’m not sure how my mother would have handled Alexis’ refusal to say Please and Thank You. Probably would have driven my mother mad I’m sure. I know Alexis drives her sister Jenelle mad by refusing to say those magic words. My grandson BenBen says Please and Thank You, as with other niceties, even as he is being a holy terror. Yet as he holds a bag of potato chips, that he had just dumped on her floor, he will say “I’m sorry”. Jenelle and BenBen are still working on those connections with being polite and acting polite.

Yet while in therapy, when Alexis refused to say Thank You when offered a page from a coloring book, I mentioned this peculiar habit to the therapist.

“Well it’s not literal. If you stop and think about it, why do we say Please and Thank You? It’s an emotional response, a social niceties, but it has no practical value.”

The therapist then went on to ask me if she says Please for specific items. Alexis will say Please for wanting specific things. Yet those are more built into our language. She knows to say Please if she wants us to buy her a toy, or to go to restaurant. However Thank You is harder. Because why do we have to say “Thank You”? What value is that phrase?

In reality, Please and Thank You have little value. Unless you look at it in the terms of socialization. We say these phrases, along with a host of others, to be nice to each other. Many of those phrases aren’t even practical. When you ask someone ‘How’s your day going?’ Rarely do you wish to know how their actual day is going. It’s just a common phrase we use as a greeting. You may exchange a few words, but a detail accounting of their day’s events isn’t expected as an answer.

If you have ever dealt with persons to whom English is a second language, even worse, American Slang as second (practically third) language. You have just had a taste of what it is like to talk to someone with autism.

Alexis isn’t being rude, it’s not like she doesn’t “Know Any Better”, it is simply that she finds such phrases and niceties absurd. Why? Why do we say Please? What is the value of Thank You?

For me, it may be a consternation. Raised with a mother who valued manners, who valued the Magic Words, and now with a daughter that finds such words absurd.

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Apples from a friend.

 

Take these apples in the picture above. As I was writing this blog, Alexis came in to show me them. The young neighbor girl brought over apples from their backyard tree. These two are for my son and grandson. As Alexis handed them to me, being very specific as to tell me which apple was for whom, I said…

“Did you tell her Thank You? Because that would be nice.” Alexis smiled at me like I was a half-wit. I could see her thinking ‘Why should I say Thank You? She gave them to me, I give her things too, we’re friends, that’s what we do.’ She just looked at me and walked off. I went outside to tell her friend ‘Thank You’ to which she replied ‘You’re Welcome’. Alexis looked on disinterested in this little exchange.

The Magic Words, as with many of our social niceties, open doors in life. They let people know you care, that you have empathy for them. From, “I’m sorry for your loss” to “Congratulations!” we use these phrases to let other know we care. Alexis cares, but finds our language to be a ‘bit much’.

So, I continue to look for the Rabbit Hole, hoping to find it. If for nothing more than to have her say those Magic Words.

It Would Take a Million People…

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Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World). / Photo by Wikipedia Commons.

By Js Kendrick.

 

Sometimes the news can be disconcerting for children. I usually have the news on my T.V. for background noise. Something in the morning to catch up on the day’s events at a glance, or late at night to keep me company while I write. On occasion, funny stories about pets, or local events, catch my children’s eye. They will point to the T.V. and tell me to look! or to rewind it back to see the story again. My children rarely pay attention to the news, and often ask if they can change the channel.

The news has been a bit serious lately in The United States of America. One story that came to the national spotlight was the story of Charlottesville, Virginia. A tragic story that opened up old wounds many of us had hoped had healed, yet found out painfully, they haven’t yet.

In the aftermath of that tragedy, many took to peaceful protest, some did not. It was the not that caught my youngest children’s attention. A group of protesters pulled down a statue in Durham, North Carolina. I was asked the simple question “why?” by my son, who is 6 years old.

Try having a go at explaining a Civil War, Slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement to a 6-year-old. If you read my last post, I had a helluva a time just explaining the eclipse. This was far more complicated and full of pitfalls. I am doing my best to raise my children to think of Humanity as One Race, which we truly are. That the minor differences in our species are just like frosting on a cake. Lick the icing, and we are still all cake inside. So after a quick explanation, I punted the question down the road.

I think I made a mistake on that.

I had no intention to write on this subject. Everyone else was, the news was full of stories on the subject of race relations, civil war monuments, etc.  My blogging was intended for fun family stories, little anecdotes to let you know that, yeah, everyone screws up as a parent, especially me, and together we can laugh at it. It wasn’t intended for discussing hot topics of the current news cycle, nor political / social controversies. Others could do that far better than me. So I didn’t write about it after my talk with my youngest children.

But you know? Life throws you a curve ball once in a while. Enter the Unwitting Racist.

It was at work, talking to a driver, that I started to form an opinion on a subject I originally wished to ignore.

We were commiserating on the conditions of our respective semi trucks, both in need of repair. Then he told me that his companies mechanic…well lets just say he repaired the drivers truck not using proper methods. Jury-rigged is the polite and proper term, an old nautical term actually. Yet he didn’t use that term. He used a term I had not heard in years. A term loaded with racist overtones. I think my expression lead to his backpedaling.

After explaining to me that he has two granddaughters who are ‘half-black’ and that to use that word to describe something or an object, as he used it, was fine. He went on to say he would never use it toward a person. I believed he was sincere on that point. Yet I let him know I disagreed with the use of the word.

We talked some more, falling off the subject that caused the tension and onto drivers in general. He talked about encountering drivers from our area in distance locations. That happens in trucking, it’s a little reminder how small the world really is. Yet the person in his chance encounter was a hispanic woman that he first met in a local store. She had her kids with her. They were very well-behaved he said, unlike other hispanic children that are usually wild in stores…because, well “You know what I’m talking about right?” was the quote. I let him know, with a raised eyebrow, that my kids are not hispanic and act up in the store too. Our conversation ended.

Although I thought about it that night, I didn’t want to blog about it. Figured, like me, he was up there in years. My generation, the Baby Boomers, have many carry over attitudes and phrases we inherited from our parents and grandparents. We were children during the Civil Rights movement. We witnessed it first hand. We had to adjust our opinions that were taught to us. The next generations will, thankfully, drop these leftovers into the trash as time marches on. No need to blog about that.

Then I was at school yesterday, eating lunch with my daughter Alexis, something both me and my wife do during the school year. At the table was a little girl, bright, funny, very polite, said something that put it all together for me. Here she was, but 9 years of age, a nexter generation talking to a group of nexters generation. The discussion was about family sizes, then she blurts out:

“She has a large family, because she Mexican, and Mexicans have a lot of children”.

I couldn’t help myself, and let out a chuckle. I told her that large families aren’t the result of ethnicity. There are lots of reasons people have large families. Although she nodded understanding my point, and since I wasn’t speaking in a admonishing way, she had no idea what she had just said. Not one bit. She had no clue she had just made a generalization about a group, some of her friends, those same friends sitting next to her. Who nodded in agreement with her observation about mexican families.

I was compelled to blog.

Right now, everyone in the United States has concerns about Neo-Nazi’s, the KKK, the Alt-Right and a slew of other groups that despise others for the silliest of reasons. Simply because they look different from the person they see in the mirror every day. We fret, we argue, we jump up and down over every little thing concerning race. We tear down statues we deem offensive. Because many of us believe is would be for the best to remove these reminders of a painful time in our country’s past. Objects that they see as glorify that time in our history. Others worry about history being forgotten. I personally believe that both points are valid.

Yet we ignore the elephant in the room.

Racism is rarely blatant. And if it is, we shoot it down (verbally) pretty quick. Those racists groups who marched in Charlottesville were a bunch of nutcases. Sorry folks, but those people were carrying Tiki Torches, and wanted to be taken seriously. No one took them seriously at first. Yet it ended tragically. And it proves that it only takes one nutcase to turn the world on end. We do need to take it seriously.

But they are obvious. We can spot them a mile away. They refuse to be polite to anyone who differs from them, from what they deem as ‘normal’ or ‘correct’ in their warped view of the world.

Yet they are not the problem. The problem is the unwitting racist. Those, like that semi truck driver, who believed nothing he said was incorrect. That it was okay to use a term that is morally repugnant to everyone else. Or the little nexter girl who makes a generalization on ethnic groups without even having a clue she did so.

This is the racism we need to worry about most. Not those groups who protested the removal of a statue. These modern-day jokers are looking for attention any way they can get it. People who think wearing white sheets and giving themselves names like ‘Grand Wizard’ make them cool. They are the symptom to the disease.

We like to think of ourselves as more evolved socially than our ancestors. To a degree we are. Yet not as far as we think. You’ve been on social media right? Seen some of those comments from opposing views? I’ve been waiting for Facebook to add a pointing finger emoji with the word ‘Witch!’ on it. I think it would get a lot of use.

People don’t go around being racist. Most people, even myself, don’t think they are racist. Nor do they think they harbor any thoughts or beliefs that are racist. We don’t actually, yet then again we do. It’s the little things, those minor points that we take for granted that are the most damaging. They add up and find their way into our culture, our schools, our work, and yes, even our homes. That need for generalization, for conformity, the need to assume because Johnny behaves this way. All Johnny’s must behave the same way.

We do this not just with race, but with shape, with dress, with speech, with gender, with sexuality, and even political views. Our need, as humans, to categorize everything into neat little packages and say ‘Well this is how it is’, has done more damage to societies than any political figure could ever do.

 

It would take a million people…

 

After explaining, badly, why people tore down the statue of the Confederate Solider in Durham North Carolina. My son looked at me, then glanced at the T.V.

“I hope they don’t tear down the Statue of Liberty, I like the Statue of Liberty, she’s beautiful” He said. I smiled at his concern.

“I don’t think anyone is going to tear the Statue of Liberty down Nick.” I said to him, still smiling. I liked the fact he was worried about a symbol of American Unity. That no matter where you came from, we are One people. The great melting pot.

“Yeah, that would take about a million people I think.” He said to me. “Maybe more, maybe everyone in the whole country!” He said.

 

I lost my smile at that point.

 

The Day the Moon Melted.

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The total eclipse of the sun. Art by Nick / photo by KidZond.

By Js Kendrick

 

In case you missed…and I have no idea how you could have…we had an eclipse this past Monday. For those of us who live in the contiguous United States it was quite a show. Passing from the west coast to the east coast. The eclipse was all over the news and throngs of people went to view the eclipse, to be in the path of totality.

There was also the scary bit about the moon melting. Oh? did you miss that part on the news? I’m sorry you missed it. It was a big deal here at my house. Because when the moon goes in front of the sun, well, come on! It’s the Sun! The moon was definitely going to melt. Or burn up, either way, the moon was toast.

Despite that little thing called Science, to a 6-year-old boy, the whole idea of the moon blocking out the sun is a tad concerning. Simply because he lacked perspective. Actually that has been going around a lot lately, but I digress. My son Nick had a concern which I needed to address.

Being 6, and fairly smart for his age, and me being very childish for my age, he had me puzzled as to how to explain it. I showed him diagrams, even videos, explained the Sun is approximately 93,000,000 miles away from Earth. And that the Moon is around 239,000 away…so we had a good 92,750,000 miles and some change, comfort zone. Nada. Just didn’t compute. He could not grasp the concept.

I would have to say his concern wasn’t exactly real. He didn’t break out the tinfoil and fashion a hat. Nor did he carry water jugs down to the basement. But he did ask if it was going to rain ‘moon drops’ when the sun melted the moon. I just narrowed my eyes and wondered if he was pulling my leg on all this.

What Nick lacked was understanding of the science. What was going to happen when the moon passed between the earth and sun? He just couldn’t fathom how it wasn’t going to be a catastrophe. Yet Mom and Dad were not panicking, nor were the neighbors packing their bags and heading for an underground bunker. So he knew that, yet it didn’t quite make sense to him.

Then, on Sunday, out on our front deck I had an epiphany. Nick was standing against the railing as I sat in a chair and I realized I couldn’t see the mail box. He was blocking my view.

“Hey Nick.” I said.

“Yes?” He said knowing dad was going to try to explain this eclipse thing again.

“Come with me, I want to show you something.” I said getting up and taking him to the mailbox.

Our mailbox is on a wooden post that stands about 5 feet tall. Nick isn’t there yet, he’s about 4 foot 5 inches. So, I used the post as comparison. Then took him back to the deck and I had him sit in the chair.

“Can you see the post?” As I stood where he did. Blocking his view.

“No, but you’re taller.” He said, got me there. I scooched over.

“Can you see our neighbors door?” I asked. He frowned. The door was taller than me, wider too. Yet I blocked it. He frowned then smiled.

“No.” He said. I pointed to our neighbors door and told him that is the Sun, and then at myself and said I was the Moon.

“I’m on earth?” He said. I nodded. Then I pointed to the sky.

“You’ve been on a plane before right? The plane is pretty big, bigger than a school bus, but when you see one up in the sky how big is it?” I asked.

“Little.” Full smiles now as the wheels turned in his head.

“Yeah, you can block it with your hand, and you known that the plane is bigger than your hand. So, see? That’s why the moon won’t melt, it’s perspective, how you see it, compared to what its actual size is. The Sun is really far away, too far to melt the moon.” He nodded, seemed to grasped the concept and went off to play, content that the moon would not melt. Although disappointed it wasn’t going to rain ‘moon drops’.

So we had an eclipse on Monday. The moon passed between the earth and the sun. The moon is still there, didn’t melt a bit. And I was able to explain perspective to my son.

The moral of this story is Perspective. In life, we often encounter problems that seem disastrous. Overwhelming and beyond our control. Yet often it is simply a matter of perspective. It may not be as severe as the Moon being melted by the Sun, and yes, at the time the problem can cause great distress and be daunting beyond belief, but years later, we tend to look back at those hiccups in our lives, placing them in perspective, and realizing that as bad as it was then, it could have been worse. You know, the Earth could have melted.

Everything…

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My Brother Jay fishing on the Rock river. / Photos by KidZond.

 

 

The conversation started quite unexpectedly. We had been talking most of the night yet others were present. My brother’s wife, my wife and two young children and my sister. But at around 11 p.m. we, my brother Jay and I, were alone.

We had dinner earlier, teriyaki chicken on the grill. We had also been drinking craft beers since afternoon. Then of course, being on vacationing all week at a rental house on the river, we had been drinking a lot. I think I drank more that week than I have in the last five years. Possibly ten.

Yet one thing my brother and I wanted to do on this vacation of ours, was to relax on the deck, beer in hand, and just talk. This hadn’t happen yet, we had family time, we went on a day trip to historical town, my brother and his wife toured a brewery in Wisconsin. So our conversation had been put off. I truly think we had forgotten about it.

“I want something other than beer, want to have some Johnnie Walker?” My brother asked me. I agreed. So we brought the bottle out and sat out to drink it gone. This was actually a family joke, a sort of ‘point of honor’ as our father and our great-uncle had accomplished this feat many times. So we needed to ‘be like dad’.

So we talked.

“Do you remember when…” and

“What was that guys name who always…” and even

“Really? I never knew that!” and many more phrases of the same vein. We talked and laughed. Talking about funny things and silly things. Catching up for years of conversations we should have had, but never got the chance to.

However as we continued on with the point of honor, tossing in a 25 ounce bottle of beer that we split between us, and some craft beers for fun. Thus increasing our blood alcohol level to a point where it narrowed our visual acuity. Our conversation turned more to the serious side.

We discussed our parents, both of whom had passed away years ago, our father in 1998 and our mother in 2006. We talked of our love of our parents, how we, among so many we know, were very lucky to have parents that stayed together their whole lives. Both of our spouses come from families that had went through divorce.

Neither our Father nor our Mother had a happy childhood. Both were children of the Depression. Our mother was taken to an orphanage when she was just 5. Our grandmother had died of tuberculosis when she was 5, her father, my grandfather took her and our uncle Tommy to an orphanage because he couldn’t be bothered to raise children. An irony here is that I am the spitting image of our grandfather.

Our father grew up with an alcoholic father who beat him. His parents divorced when he was young and our grandmother remarried when our father was 13. He ended up leaving home at 15 and living with our great-uncle since my grandmothers new husband and our father didn’t get along. The would become the best of friends over the years, but back then they couldn’t stand each other. So both our parents loathed their childhoods. However, they talked of the good times more than the bad.

Our parent would have four children, they would have their ups and downs yet still remained together for 53 years till our fathers death. They were, by no means, perfect people. Yet they truly loved one another and their children.

I wouldn’t call it a chiding of our parents as more of a review. All of us children are hard workers, a trait we inherited from our father. Even our eldest brother (who wasn’t present) owns his own business. Yet unlike our father, we have stayed at jobs for years.

“So, what? 2 years? maybe 3 tops?” My brother said. I nodded.

“I’ve been at my present job for 11 years, before that 13 years.” I said. He nodding, he too had worked at his present job for years.

Our father rarely stayed at one job. He would always find a reason to move on. We figured the longest job he ever held was 5 years. Yet he provided, always came through in the end. The in-between sucked, but he was good at pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.

We talked about Politics, our father loved to talk politics. We talked sports, and all the events our father dragged us to. How our mother would smack us in the face for the littlest infraction yet our father never, ever, laid a hand on us. Although they loved each other immensely, my brother Jay and our mother’s relationship (especially in his teenage years) wasn’t the best. When he became an adult, their relationship mellowed. This is a common thread isn’t it? I had the same relationship with my eldest daughter. Yet I never hit her with a cast iron frying pan like our mother did to Jay. Yes, there is a story there.

Our conversation metered on to our lives, our screw ups, our triumphs. We talk families, and children. We divulged secrets of our lives. Things we would never repeat and I won’t repeat here. As we talked the conversation went to a place few get to go to. One of deep admiration and love for each other, of total honesty without hurt. Two brothers, intoxicated yes, but still able to follow each other’s words. Reaching down deep to find our moment in time where we bonded like we never have before.

I’m the baby of the family at 53. Jay is 60, so you can imagine what a total pain in the ass I was as a younger brother. As kids, our bonding was only when we needed something from each other. Yet that night, that Saturday night that I will never forget, the conversation transcended all normal conversations we had ever had. We even went so far as to chide each other, but in a loving caring way, that if not for that moment in time, it would have been taken wrong, taken as a rebuke, yet it wasn’t that night.

As my brother question my dreams, my desire to become a writer and to fulfil that dream, that I have been pursuing for over 20 years, he asked my why I had never published. Why I had never put my work out there for others to see.

“What? are you afraid? You scared that you will be rejected? That no one will like your work?” he asked me. After a long awkward pause, I answered him.

“Yeah…” I said quietly. “I’m afraid.” I admitted.

“Okay, so what’s worse. Never publishing and not having to worry about rejection, or not knowing? Never knowing if anyone will like it because you didn’t put it out there?” and that was the crux of the matter.

“So what if no one likes it, you’ll know, then just…I don’t know, do something else you love. But come on, you need to know.” He said to me.

And he was right. I knew he was. That night, that Saturday night when we stayed up till the early morning air was thick with dew, he pushed me to face my biggest fear. This blog was created in response to that conversation. Putting myself out there for the world to read. I would have never had started it if not for his loving goading of me.

We had conversations on every topic imaginable. I can’t think of a subject we didn’t touch upon. From the world and it’s messed up ways, to what bug is that? We talked. We finished our point of honor and then some. And as the sun threaten to show the first rays of dawn, we stumbled off to bed. Our tongues were literally tired. Our eyes bleary, our bodies achy and knowing the pain they will be in tomorrow. Yet our souls were refreshed.

Not a Saturday night has passed since that one, that I don’t think about that conversation. Something about it was almost magical. No showmanship, no condemnations, no boasting except for humours effects. No one but us, that deck, and the river that flowed by. I will never forget that night. Even though, in time, the conversation itself will fade in memory, exact details will be lost, as some were to Mr. Johnnie Walker, yet the feeling and emotions of that night…I’ll never forget it. Nor will my brother Jay.

The next day, as we were made fun of for our hangovers. Teased and picked on, we would just smile at each other. It was Sunday, their last day here before flying home early Monday morning, and my family and I had to go home, so we parted around mid-afternoon. My sister-in-law asked my brother Jay how long we stayed up. He said around 5 a.m. he thought. She looked at him and asked him what did we talk about for 6 hours? He thought for a moment, looked at her and said.

“Everything…”

Through the Prism of my Yard.

Or why you should teach your children not to believe in ‘races’.

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Photos by KidZond

[Authors Note: Besides blogging I have the infamous Day Job. I work at a manufacturing plant. My job is the Yard Truck Driver, in short, I move Semi-trailers in and out of docks and assist the truck drivers who come to our plant for pick ups and deliveries.]

I have a rule at my job. When you come into my yard you leave behind what you think you are. You leave behind your gender, your ethnicity, your political views, your religious beliefs and your race. Every truck driver that comes into my yard is classified as a Driver. I have done this at my job for the 11 years I have been there.

I would like to tell you that I do this for a higher moral purpose. That I am devoid of jaded opinions. That unlike the other 7 billion people on this planet, I alone, have the moral high ground cornered.

I don’t. Not even close. Yet I do know that in order for my yard to function, I have to minimize any conflicts that may arise. So ever driver that comes into my yard is just that, a driver. I’ve had to let that be known on more than one occasion. Neutrality is the key to keeping my yard running smoothly.

I would like to think I carry this attitude off work. I try, but I fall victim to my own prejudices now and again. That isn’t totally a flaw in my character, but a flaw in my humanity. Let me give you an example.

For a while there has been a cute meme circulating on Facebook. It shows a black toddler in middle-eastern dress, putting her hand on a white toddler in european dress, cheek. The meme extolled the virtues of children. Children who do not look at each other as being of races, that race is a concept beyond their ken. It’s a flipping cute meme! You’re going to have a hard time not liking the meme and most people absolutely accept it as truth.

But it’s not the exact truth. The truth is that these kids are two toddlers and recognize that fact. Kids, especially very little ones, look at each other as kindred spirits in a world full of giants. If someone were to put a toy between these two, all hell would break out in less than 30 seconds. Simply because they are kids, nothing to do with pigment.

Even as children grow up they keep this ‘kids against the adults’ mentality. Of course there will be a point when children notice differences in others and will form their own opinions. Obviously how they are raised, how their parents, grandparents, and every other elder in their life feel about other people, who are different, in one way or another, has an important impact.

Back to the meme. No, kids are not born racist. Yet they are born to discriminate. And believe me, there is a huge difference there. People discriminate all the time as adults. It doesn’t mean you are a racist.

You have friends? most likely a majority of your friends have common interests with you. You probably don’t agree with your friends views 100%, but you do agree on a good chunk of it. It may be you two have a history dating back to grade school, or you met in the military and clicked. You have commonalities that bonded you together at one time and have kept you together. They are your friend and others are not because you discriminate against the others. Not in a bad way, you choose to be with those that are like you. This is a very human quality, and not on its own, a bad one.

“The last race died out 40,000 years ago.”

My eldest daughter asked me an interesting question one day. How many races are there? I told her one. She gave me a serious wtf look and I had to give a quick explanation.

One Race, the Human Race. Specifically Homo Sapiens. The other race died out about 40,000 years ago. The Neanderthals.

Of course she asked about people who looked different from her and I. If you haven’t been asked this question yet by your child, it will come. Mine was in her late teens when this topic came up for some reason. Yet scoff all you want about there only being one race, take a moment to consider the alternative. Just how many are there?

Okay, So we have Asian, Black, White, I guess Brown, but what is brown? Hispanic? That’s not really a race. Hispanic is a broad term for people whose ancestors were once under the control of Spain. Yet Filipinos were also under spanish control at one time and we consider them Asian. Geography, go figure. Indians, is that a Brown race? So does that mean that people who live in Nepal and those from Karachi Pakistan are the same? Why are they Brown and people from Africa, and their descendants, are called Black? And, for the love God! What about indigenous people’s? Inuits and Aborigines? All they One race or Two?

Gets pretty maddening doesn’t it? Humans are a spectrum of diverse colors and physical characteristics. Yet we are still, all of us, human. That much we have in common. Our diversity has kept our species on this planet for the last 150,000 years. Unlike the other race, the Neanderthals, we made it.

Back to the prism of my yard. There has been many days over the years I have watched truck drivers struggle to put their empty trailer in our drop lot. They will be cranking their wheel, jacking their trailer in the oddest of positions so they can put their trailer next to one that looks just like theirs. It’s not just a driver trying to put his trailer next to another trailer from his company, but types of trailers next to the same type. All the while there will be plenty of empty space for the driver to drop and go. Yet people discriminate, they find commonalities and have a desire to conform. They put those trailers next to each other because it just, well … it looks right.

The elephant in the room on races is that people, to this day, consider it a big deal. People will hate, cheat, deride those whom they feel are different from themselves. Races may not exist as we’ve been taught, yet racism is real. It exists.

So in my yard, I have banished it. I judge people on their ability to do their job, whether they are nice or an asshole. Little things like the color of their skin do not factor into my opinions. I don’t have time for that. Neither do they.

As for my children, I have always taught them that there is only one race. That humanity is diverse, and that is a good thing. That 7 billion humans are individuals, sometimes conformity gets the better of them, but they are still individuals. That looking at the differences between people and judging them for those differences is like looking through a prism. Your view will be distorted.

Yet, if you hold that same prism away from you and let the sunlight shine through it, you will be rewarded with a rainbow of colors. Amazing isn’t it? That one prism can hold so many different colors.

 

 

My Dog has left me. (emotionally)

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Jess sleeping comfortably on our couch. / All photo’s by KidZond

By Js Kendrick

 

Not exactly sure when it happened, but it happened this year for sure. It might have started in June, when we took a week vacation and had family members check on our animals. Or maybe it was that weekend when we boarded her, since we were going to be out of town (family too). By July, when we boarded her for a wedding we attended, it had definitely happened. My dog had left me emotionally.

“Come on Jess, wanna go outside?” I would say to her when I came home from work.

Jess would raise an eyebrow, then go back to sleep. I noticed this was a habit of hers of late. Ignoring my existence. She would just sigh, and turn her head. I was no longer of importance. I think she ignores me better than my ex-wife did.

Jess, or Jesse, was originally my daughter Kayla’s dog. Yet as often happens when your 16-year-old gets a dog, we inherited her. Honestly it was easier all the way around. My wife wanted to get a dog, my daughter, now an adult, lifestyle (and new apartment) wouldn’t allow dogs, so Jess came to live with us.

Jess used to wait for me impatiently as I put all my belongings down when I got home from my 2nd shift job. Wagging her tail and anticipating going outside. I often had to tell her to back up so I could open the door. Labs take up a lot of floor space.

Outside I would kick this ragged volley ball and she would chase it. Then stop after mid-chase to go potty and come back to me with a look of wonder as to where the ball magically went.

“Um, Jess you dropped it, go get it.” She would cock her head at me, look to where I pointed the go ‘oh yeah, forgot’. She forgot often. But chasing the ball was her favorite pastime then.

As I said my wife wanted a dog. Because families, especially with small children, need a dog don’t they? I was very hesitant. I was raised with animals. Dogs? yes of course! Cats? oh heck we had hundreds! (Okay maybe 2 to 3 when I was growing up) But we also had…Ducks, Geese, Chickens, Turkeys Rabbits, and a “pet” raccoon. The raccoon get’s quotes because they truly are never a pet. It’s more like an arrangement really. Yes I grew up on a farm.

Yet unlike any other animals, dogs are different. Although the internet is filled with stories of unconditional love from dogs, and how dogs are just like ‘children’.  Which is patently false, has your puppy ever bought Trolls three times? (didn’t think so.) But dogs, unlike any other animal, has your back.

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This cat does not have your back. Possibly not even its own.

Unless you piss them off. When you piss off a dog, lord help you.

We’re not talking bite you mad at you. Or shit on the carpet mad. This is more of the I’m going to ignore you exist mad.

Me: Comes home, opens door.

Dog: Opens one eye, ignores me. Closes eye very slowly and goes back to sleep.

Wife: Comes home, opens door.

Dog: Gets up so fast, possibly throwing out her back in the process, stands to greet her and wags tail enthusiastically.

Me: Asks the dog if she wants to go out.

Dog: Half opens right eye, sighs and closes eye. Again, slowly.

Wife: Just happens to walk by the door.

Dog: Leaps off couch, navigating two kids playing shopkins on the living room floor, steps over cat (who runs down the hall like the devil bit his tail) and goes to the door. Stares up at door expecting it to open soon, as wife walks away.

My dog does not like me anymore. She has packed her emotional bags and left. I am nothing anymore to her. If I was by myself at home and fell breaking my leg, because I slipped on a shopkin, and my phone fell just out of the reach of my hand. I am sure she would bring me her ball… and drop it on my phone. Probably as the cat climbed on my chest to knead me and purr.

So yeah, me and my dog broke up. I am sad about it. Thought about flowers and a card. But she would just bury the flowers and chew on the card. If I am ever to regain her affections, it will be through constant petting, scratching her belly, and not ignoring her. Never ignore your dog.

Of course I don’t think she is too mad at me. I still feed her, and just like a man, a dog’s heart is through her stomach.

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Because one couch is not enough to sleep on.

 

 

[No animals were harmed in the taking of these photographs. Despite their contorted postures, they are all healthy and happy. Tad overweight, but active nonetheless.]