Planning The Future


Addie wandered into my office holding her favorite baby doll. She needed help with the tiny buttons on the dress it was wearing. As I helped her we fell into conversation, as we always do.

Addie said, “Nana, when I grow up I want to have two girl babies.”

I said, “What about having a boy baby? It could happen you know.”

A: “Nope, I don’t want a boy baby, they are messy and loud. Besides, I don’t like boys.” (She is six.)

Me: “Well I had two boy babies, and I loved them very much. You might feel the same way.”

A: “No I won’t. I only want girl babies.”

M: “Keep in mind that you need a husband to have any babies. To do that, you will need to love him too. Just like I love your Papa.”

A: “Oh, yeah. I know that.” Long pause. “Well maybe just one boy baby, because my husband will probably want one since we will have two girls. But the Dad can take care of the boy, since I have no idea how to do that after they are little babies.”

M: “That would be a good compromise. But I bet you will love your boy baby as much as you will love your girls. Any baby is hard work, but it is worth every minute of your time and effort.”

A: “Oh I know that, Nana. You worked hard to raise my Grandpa Arron and Uncle Riley. and my Mommy, and now you work hard to raise me. I want to be just like you when I am a mommy.”

Me: Blinking back tears. “Oh Addie, I love you very much. I simply want you to be who you are and do what you want with your life.”

A: “I know, Nana. You will always love me all my life. So will Papa.”

With that, she wandered off to change her baby doll’s diaper. I heard her singing a song to rock it to sleep. In so many ways, I see her copy behavior she has seen from me and her Papa. It warms my heart and fills me with hope for the future, and she will eventually soften her attitude on boys. At six, all little girls find boys hard to understand. They are loud, dirty, and messy, but that is all part of being a boy learning to be a man. Just as she is a girl learning how to be a woman. Today she wants to be a mommy, tomorrow, she may want to be a unicorn or a fairy. Either way, we encourage her to discover her imagination, grow as she wants to grow, and love her no matter what. She is our angel baby, and one day, she will be a mommy who knows how to care for and love her children. She makes us proud every day.

Advertisements

What Snowflakes Need


Like many people my age, I am flat out confused by the younger generation’s determination to paint all things traditionally American as evil. Since I have been bed bound for the past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to think, and I may have found a partial answer to the problem.

People of my generation, the much touted “Baby Boomers” were raised by men and women who were from the greatest generation ever put on this planet. They are the WWII, Korean, and Viet Nam veterans. They were the men and women who faced the greatest evil of all time, followed by those who faced down communism on two battle fields to keep innocent people from being murdered and imprisoned. If President Johnson and his cadre of criminals hadn’t been such cowards, we would have wiped out the Viet Cong and saved millions from the killing fields. But I digress.

Our parents were stalwart, hardworking, patriotic, American citizens who believed in the American dream. Some were first generation Americans whose parents immigrated to give them a better life. Some, like my family, has been in America since the earliest days of European occupation. Some came from generations of American Indians who lived here since the beginning of human occupation. What all these people had in common was an understanding of what it meant to be an American. Immigrants came here to become Americans, to leave behind the ills of their native land, bringing their customs and creativity to add to the melting pot that is and always will be unique to our great country.

Those men and women of my parent’s generation and the generations before them were not afraid of hard work and sacrifice for the good of their family and their community. It didn’t matter where you came from, it mattered where you were going and how you planned to get there. After WWII, the survivors came back with the horrors of war written into their minds and hearts, but they tried to move forward and leave it in the past. The faced the nightmares, worries, and fear with their usual determination to overcome the evil and make their lives worth living.

They taught us to be strong, to think things through, to work hard, to overcome adversity without whining and feeling sorry for ourselves, and to have pride in our country and all that she stood for. We believed in the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. In my generation that included all people, no matter color, religion, creed, or code. We are all Americans, those who are citizens and here legally. We stood tall, and we believed in the very freedoms that make the United States of America a one of a kind country.

Because we were raised by the great generation, there were certain boundaries we didn’t cross. We didn’t insult our flag, our military men and women, or out elders who built all that we could use to build our lives. We gave thanks for the good, and tried to eliminate the bad. We went to church, we believed in Christianity, and welcomed those with other beliefs, at least most of us did. We wanted to be like our parents and grandparents. We wanted to stand side by side with those who fought for our freedom, and we wanted to teach our children to appreciate the same things.

Some of us failed, some of us were successful, and it is easy to see who was which by looking at the behavior of their progeny today. Those that failed have snowflake, fearful, perpetually offended, petulant children who at the age of thirty are still as immature as most teenagers under sixteen. They wear their anger and hostility toward American values like a badge of honor or trophy for participation. They aren’t winners at anything because winning is evil and bad since that means someone has to lose. Their parents encouraged the little darlings to believe they were perfect in all things and no one has the right to tell them no. In short, they haven’t learned how to be adults, and at this rate probably never will.

Those that didn’t fail have kids who left home, got a job, went to school for a career and made one for themselves, got married, had kids of their own, and stand for the same values as the greatest generation. Family, Country, God, and Community. They value our history, Constitution, and freedoms as all Americans have from the beginning. In short, the successful parents have successful kids who will pass on the same values to their children and grandchildren.

Granted, before everyone gets on the hate wagon, America hasn’t been perfect. But most people have to go back two or more generations to find issues to whine about. Since the 1960’s all people, black, Hispanic, white, or green with purple polka dots, are equal and have equal OPPORTUNITY to be as successful as they want to be. Some get it easier with affirmative action than others, but the opportunity is still there for all. Today’s big whine is that illegals should be allowed in no matter what. Tell that to the generations who sacrificed all to get into this country legally. Their answer will be simple, “Get in line and wait your turn.” They did.

This country, like most who want a Republic instead of any other form of government, has had its growing pains. We have been up and down financially. We have had growing pains in expansion and overcoming wars and rumors of war. But we have always come out on top because of the values and ideals of the American dream of independence, core values, and the strength of the men and women who came before us.

I believe that every single snowflake generation child should have to sit down with a person of the great generation, especially Holocaust survivors, and listen to their stories. My mother grew up in a one room cabin, with no running water and bare minimum electricity in rural Oklahoma in the 1930’s and 1940’s. My Dad grew up on an Indian Reservation in Arizona for most of his life. Both were from dirt poor families. Today, my dad is gone, but my mother lives alone on a 40 acre farm in Oklahoma. She is made of tougher stuff than most of us are, and she will go on doing what she wants for as long as she can. Ask most of the people her age if they want help and they will tell you no in no uncertain terms.

So many snowflake kids today haven’t a clue what hardship truly is. For them losing the charger to their phone is catastrophic. I so want to put them out on a farm in the middle of no where with no amenities and see how long they last. I have a standing bet that it will be less than 48 hours. What the snowflakes need is a lesson in reality. There are millions of young men and women their age who know that reality is hard work and learning to adapt and overcome the bad in life instead of whining about it. Many are in the military, many are police officers and other first responders, many are teachers and business owners, many are blue collar workers, and some are even rich kids whose parents made them earn what they got. Oh, and no more participation trophies, either you win one or you learn how to cope with losing.

We need the snowflake kids to learn from the greatest generation and their children before they are all gone. Time is short, take advantage of the knowledge they have before it is lost in the history of the whiners and moaners. Either learn from them or learn the hard way that life is not given to you to fritter away in self adoration, it is given to you as a test to see if you are made from the right stuff. Most snowflakes don’t even know what that means. Sad.

Play With Any Toy


“Nana?” she asked, “Do I have to play with boy toys if I don’t want to?” I was surprised at the question, she is all girl, and only has pink toy cars that match her Barbie stuff. “Why?” I asked her. “Well, Papa said that sometimes girls play with toys boys like more than girls do. I don’t like boy toys, they’re boring and dumb. I want to play with girl toys because I have fun pretending with them. And I love my babies. (She is crazy about baby dolls.) So I don’t want to play with boy toys.” I assured her that she didn’t have to play with boy toys if she didn’t want to, but if she did she could. It didn’t matter one way or the other. But it had to be her choice what she played with and when. She was satisfied with that and went off to play with her Barbie doll house. Later, I got the whole story from her.

Come to find out, it is a big issue at school from last week. There was a deep discussion between the other kids sitting at her table. There are four of them two girls, two boys. One of the boys was playing “house” with the mostly girl group. He was “the dad” and he was babysitting so the “moms” could go grocery shopping. All normal play as far as I am concerned. They were mimicking their home life. Sounds a lot like our house too. At one point one of the girls said that the boy was silly for playing with a doll because it was a girl toy. This led to a huge discussion about what a boy toy or girl toy was, and why it was fine for anyone to play with either. Except for one small group of girls who insisted that boys who played with dolls were sissies and not acting like boys. Addie, who has been raised in a traditional family that has no such rules was confused. She was raised to think that she could play with any toy, and even if boy toys were boring and dumb, she could still play with them.

The play ended with a young boy with hurt feelings, and several snippy little girls feeling smug and superior. Addie felt bad for the little boy, he sits at her table, and he is her friend. The next free play time, she went to play with him and his boy toys. They had fun wrecking their trucks. Then they decided to organize the baby stuff so that everyone could find it and play with it. They were happily folding “laundry” and putting everything away when another girl started in on the boy again about being a sissy. Addie stepped in and told her she was being a mean bully to the boy. He quietly walked away and played with the boys again. The girl and Addie ignored each other the rest of the week. Apparently, it really bothered her. Enough that she sought out adult opinions from the Mr. and I.

She told me that when she went back to school, she was going to tell the boy and the mean girl that anyone could play with any toy they wanted to, and it didn’t mean they were anything different than anyone else. She was indignant for her friend, which makes me proud of her. My problem is simple, what kind of home life does the little girl have that it gives her the idea everyone has to be the same, and if anyone is different at all, then it is okay to ridicule them and call them names?

I don’t believe in forcing my kids to play with gender specific toys, who knows, my girls might want to be mechanics, and my boys might want to be a kindergarten teacher for all I know. It is sad enough that men are denied the opportunity to work with and be around young children because the are automatically suspected monsters due to their gender. Now other children, who have been brain washed, want to control a boy’s instinct to parent by telling them doing so makes them suspected in some way as abnormal. Why? At this rate, boys will grow up to be men who are afraid of being involved with their own children for fear of being labeled as predators, homosexual, or inept as males.

I am proud of Addie for standing up for her friend. I am glad she felt able to come to us and ask about something that really bothered her. I hope we gave her an answer that would help her navigate the social issues of kindergarten children. Most of all, however, I hope that girl has zero influence on Addie’s acceptance of everyone just as they are.

How Weird Is That?


I woke up very early this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. What woke me was a dream I was having. I was teaching a class of first year college students (do they still call them freshmen?) and we were discussing who the real protagonist in Romeo and Juliet was. I had a list on the board, The fathers, the prince, Romeo, etc., ending with the Friar. After a minute everyone got a wrong answer so I told them it was the Friar and launched into a dissection of the history of England, the anti-Catholic sentiment of the age and how Shakespeare used his plays to promote the propaganda of first the Queen and then the King of England against the Catholic church. I won’t go into the entire lesson, it is one that I taught several times during my teaching days.
 
One way I kept younger kids, meaning teenagers, awake was to compare the feud between the families to modern day gang wars and how the warring factions of the government today were much like the war between the King of England who was also the head of the Church of England and the Catholic Church in other countries and the Catholic Kings. The kids ate it up with a spoon.
 
After waking up, I lay in bed contemplating Romeo and Juliet and other Shakespeare plays where the bias was blatant if one knew the history of the era in which it was written. Personally, I like the comedies best because he used outright parody of the pomposity of the gentry versus the vitality of the commoners to poke fun at everyone from royalty to the servants, merchants, and country bumpkins. He walked a close line between mocking and sneering and lecturing against the unpopular ideals of the King and his Lords.
 
What I find interesting is that after all this time, I remember all the details of the lesson, history, and play and could stand up in front of a classroom and give it again with a few peeks at the play to get my quotes right. How weird is that? No really, I wonder how weird it is.
 
Anyway, now I have Shakespeare on my mind. And I really, really miss teaching.

Again? Really? This Is Getting SO Predictable.


Yet another idiotic meme was posted on social media today. One that, once again, compared President Trump to Adolf Hitler. A blatant attempt to sway weak minded, perpetually offended, left leaning, uneducated people that the legally elected President of the United States is evil. She attempted to defend her stance by repeating the usual nonsense about his personality and his behavior, and that he was obviously mentally ill. I responded with this.

T (the person who eagerly posted the meme), stop a minute. So he (President Trump) doesn’t meet your standards for polite language, and he is rough edged, What makes him fake if that is true? It seems to me that people who say what they mean and mean what they say are often viewed as harsh or outspoken and use less of the polite passive aggressive verbiage than those who are just spewing rhetoric.

What makes you think he is crazy and needs evaluation? The propaganda you read and the hate that you spread without proof, from non medical anti Trump advocates, or do you have a medical degree that would give you the right to attest to that statement?

If you read something other than propaganda from the hate Trump crowd, you would know that he DID have a mental evaluation when he had his last physical. Guess what, it showed that he was perfectly normal and he has no mental issues at all. That tells me it is the folks who hate him who really have the mental issues. They are so filled with ire they can’t be bothered to actually think for themselves, read something beyond propaganda, and take a step back to see just how much he HAS done since he has been in office.

In fact, he has managed, despite Congress doing their best to stop him with their stalling, to accomplish almost all he promised to the REST of us. Those who want someone who isn’t a professional lying politician to make American great again. Heaven knows the Obummer managed to make the world laugh at us long and loud.

All of the nonsense you have spewed thus far, my friend, is pure propaganda repeated over and over and over by the leftist media and hard line haters. Truth doesn’t matter to any of them, only getting that cow Killary in office matters. It doesn’t matter that she is a criminal and hates all of us deplorable underlings.

Look, T, you simply need to take a minute to stop hating and see all the good that has happened for most of America since he took office. Starting with more folks working than ever before and more freedom returning to our lives. Stop hating, learn for yourself. Don’t be a cog in the hate machine. Be an independent individual. It takes courage, but you are smart enough and talented enough to do it.

Typically, all I got in response from T and her cadre of perpetually angry and offended, hate filled, so called friends, was personal insults, unexciting verbosity, and repetitive vomiting of the standard “we hate Trump” hits. It makes my eyes cross with boredom, kind of like listening to the same five notes of a screeching diva aria.

I can’t believe people are so afraid to think outside of the prison of the liberal progressive thought box and socially acceptable actions. It is as if they have a list of what is and is not the right thing to say and do when they hear the word Trump. Someone says that the job market is booming thanks to his tax cuts, and the leftist run to their menu and pick a response for column A for feeling offended, column B for knowing they are superior to all the facts, and C what names to call anyone who says, “Good! More jobs for the under employed, minorities, and legal immigrants.”

It all starts to blend together in an unending “wawawawa” like the teachers in the Peanuts cartoons. I see more and more Constitutionally Conservatives rolling their eyes and refusing to engage in such petty nonsense. The odd thing is, when Conservatives stop talking, responding, or arguing with such people, the leftist actually think they won the debate or changed someone’s mind to come over to the dark side. Those folks actually do not understand civil discourse, irony, or common facts. They don’t care what the facts say, they hoist themselves on their emotion filled self righteousness and expect the world to bow down to them.

Well, we see what that brought to us when our then president bowed to the will of every single anti American leader in the world. Now we have even more people trying to use our country and its people for their gain. Sundering our generosity as a nation and as a people, we have become the laughing stock of the world, expected to apologize for our strength, our ability, and our business acumen. I would say that they still want to be in our schools, but with the way the leftists have taken over all the liberal arts universities, that is no longer so, as we drop further behind in educational prowess every year.

So, to T, and to the few progressives I bother to speak to any longer: Just because I refuse to engage in this unending, whining, round robin argument it does not mean you won the battle. If anything it means I no longer feel you have a grip on reality and nothing I say will bring you back from the abyss of ignorance and hate that permeates your lives. I love you, I care about you, but I am no longer going to let you be the negative in my world. I will go around, ignore, climb over, stand above, adapt and overcome your incessant complaining and hatred toward a hard working American. A man whom you hate because he is successful and makes the lot of you look idiotic in your constant propaganda laden, unthinking lemming-like devotion to lies, distortions, and venomous tautology concerning his presidency. In short, no one is listening and we are all moving on.

The Music Goes On


This is a story told to me by my mother Jean Bonham Vandenburg

HOW THE MUSIC STARTED IN THE BONHAM FAMILY

O. C. Bonham played the fiddle. He met another musician, Clarence Rodgers, who also played the fiddle or violin. In fact he was a music teacher for Atoka schools and private students too. Mr. Clarence Rodgers was an accomplished Classically trained musician and was well known as a brilliant music teacher. Mr Bonham was a widower, who had four children by his first wife. Ida New. Two of them survived,Minnie Lee and Zed.

Minnie was very good on the organ and piano. She was a good vocalist too. Mr Rodgers taught her the piano and she played in church. Minnie eventually married and became the mother of five children, who grew to be talented a singers in church as well. Mr Bonham married again to Lydia New Trimmer and had two children, Oran Carl and Collie. Although Carl, as Oran Carl came to be known, survived, Collie died when a very young child. Clarence Rodgers taught Carl to play the guitar and other instruments. Mr Bonham, Mr. Gene Warren, the principal of Harmony School, Clarence Rodgers, Carl, and his friend Hardy Wilkins would gather at the Bonham house and play music during the winter when crops were harvested and laid by.

O C Bonham married later in life to Novella Burlison and they had had five children. Clearance Rodgers taught the oldest son, Orville, to play the fiddle too. His children are part of the Bonham Bluegrass family. Sara Ann, Glen, and Virgil all were talented. Their big brother, Carl, taught Ollie and Glen to play the guitar.

Carl liked ballads and the music of early Country and Western singers such as Jimmie Rodgers. His friend, Hardy, was a good musician who played for dances at the outside dance floor in Stringtown, Oklahoma that was made famous when the infamous criminals, Bonnie and Clyde had a shoot out where they killed a deputy and wounded the sheriff. Carl and Hardy were will known in the area and played for dances held in homes throughout Atoka County. His daughter can remember going to someones house and they would move all the furniture  out of one room so that could have room to dance. When the little kids and babies got sleepy the parents would lay them on the beds to sleep. When the movie, Gone With The Wind, came out, Carl and Hardy played during the intermission every night. Carl was a good singer and, thanks to Clarence Rodgers, a good musician, When Carl was first learning to play, if he missed a cord or made a mistake, Clarence would smack Carl with his fiddle bow.

The daughters of Carl and his wife, Thelma Bolling Bonham, also learned to sing at an early age. Jeannie Bonham Vandenburg and Jackie Bonham Hand, sang on a radio show that was recorded live from the Mamie Johnson school in Atoka every Sunday. They, and the teachers from Harmony decided to have a show at Harmony School to help buy new basketball uniforms, Jean and Jackie and the other students organized the show and it was a big hit in the community. It helped to get the much needed uniforms.

Jean married Eddie Vandenburg when he came back from the Korean War, He was an outstanding natural musician. Later, when he went back into the Army, Eddie and Jean were stationed many places where they always became involved with country music. They entertained at the military clubs and civilian clubs near by. They were asked to record and go on tour, but being a soldier came first so they had to let the opportunity pass. Both Jean and Eddie were song writers, and Jean continues to write today. They were both raised to sing traditional Country Music. Eddie passed away a few years ago, but Jean is still invited to sing at various venues where she performs now and then. If you get a chance to hear Miss Jean you are in for a real treat. She has had many years experience and has performed with many talented bands and fronted for many rising stars. She has some great stories to tell about the places and people she and Eddie have met.

They were parents of five children and who are also musicians and vocalists. The girls enjoy singing in church. Karron is a writer and was a choir director and, the youngest, Rebecca and her husband, David Barrington, often sing and direct musical events in their church, Eddie Vandenburg Jr. is good musician and a collector of music instruments. Some of Eddie and Jean’s grandchildren and great grandchildren also have interests in music.

With each generation, the music goes on in the Bonham family.

Going to School with Mrs. Graham


When I started school, it was in a small country school in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. The school had grades one through eight in four classrooms. Two ages per class. In mine, there were both first and second grade students. Mrs. Graham was our teacher. She also taught many of my cousins, and my sister. She was wonderful and we all adored her.

Mrs. Graham was probably in her early forties when I was in her class. She taught until she was into her seventies. Three generations from the families in that area passed through her capable hands, learning to read, write, do math, science, art, and history. She was firm, fair, and dedicated to teaching all those little mush headed kids the basics of education. After two years in her class, you could do all those important skills, and spell too.

She didn’t have fancy computers, loads of resources, and special papers to hand out for homework, the only homework we ever had was learning the spelling list for the week. She didn’t have pretty cut outs and things to make bulletin boards with reminders, handouts for kids to take home to parents, or expensive products to teach with. She had a chalkboard, Big Chief tablets, pencils, crayons, a few pair of scissors, and an old beat up mimeograph machine that never quite had enough ink. But we all learned anyway.

What she did have, however, were parents that taught us to respect Mrs. Graham, or they would be all over us about it. I never heard one student talk back to her, smart off to her, or disrespect her in any way. None of us would if we didn’t want our parents to know and make sure we never did it again. What she did have was an innate ability to understand how children learned, and how to ignite our imagination through stories, ideas, and a firm belief that each and every one of us was brilliant in one way or another. What she did have, was a vast store of knowledge that she was willing and able to impart to all of us, even the rowdy boys who were more interested in rough housing than learning their spelling words. What she had was the support of the parents, the admiration of the other teachers and the administration, and the love of her students.

She wouldn’t recognize the modern classroom today. She wouldn’t understand how students can get away with literally doing nothing and still move on to the next level. She wouldn’t understand teaching a child to pass an exam instead of teaching children to learn the basics of reading, math, history, and science as a platform for the building of an educated mind. She wouldn’t understand the focus on feelings instead of a focus on encouraging each student through a purpose driven agenda designed to help them learn to help themselves learn. She wouldn’t understand the disrespect students, parents, and the administration have for the teachers who are down in the trenches working with hateful, angry, bored students every day. Teachers like Mrs. Graham are a phenomenon of the past.

Back when education meant that children were truly learning, it wasn’t uncommon for a young man or woman still in their teens to be teaching an entire community of students in a one room school with children from ages six to seventeen. By the time those children were ready to go to High School, they were proficient in all the basics, plus they could speak, read, and write in either Greek or Latin, or both. They were familiar with and could quote great works of literature, they understood complex mathematics and science theories and practices. They knew the history of their town, state, and country along with world history from the ancient ages to the present. Today, most High School students can barely read, write, or have the skills needed to pass the state exam required for graduation. Students are less intelligent, capable, or determined to excel in their studies. It isn’t just an inner city issue, or a poor issue, it is endemic throughout ever socio-economic level within in every type of community. More children are falling to the lowest common denominator of sloth, failure, and self aggrandizing entitlement than ever before. And no one cares enough to stop the fall, because today, we no longer have teachers like Mrs. Graham. We no longer have teachers, parents, and administrators who see teaching as more than a babysitting service provided for their children, because teachers are no longer allowed to teach, they only facilitate the process of regurgitative education. The students pass the state exam and promptly forget what they learned. They don’t build on a solid foundation of the basics, they simply pass through the system and wonder why life is so hard for them when they graduate or quit school as soon as they are old enough.

Teachers go into teaching knowing that it will be a thankless profession with poor pay. Some go in all shiny and new, ready to make a difference in the lives of their students, and run right into that wall of the lowest common denominator. Many, within a year or two, are so beaten down and exhausted they end up walking away from the profession. It is easier to deal with rude people as a waitress than to put their hearts into a profession where they are insulted and belittled by everyone on a daily basis. The only real losers in the modern education models of today are the generations of students who will waste twelve years in a system that will teach them nothing of value.

Mrs. Graham most definitely would not understand that at all.