Revisiting Mainers and their Dogs or maybe White Folks and Dogs

The post that follows is a reprint from one of my first posts back in June 2008. Considering that I went into my favorite local cafe to grab an iced coffee this afternoon and was greeted by an adorable pug, re-running this post seemed appropriate. Clearly since this post ran in 2008 a few things have changed that are mentioned in the post, namely that Obama is no longer the Democratic nominee but actually the president. I will also add that my attitude towards dogs continues to evolve as my daughter is a dog lover determined to wear me down…kid really wants a dog though any pet will do for the moment. Yet I still have issues with dogs in certain spaces…like the place that serves my food and drink.

In case you didn’t know, Maine is a very white state, I believe its only second to Vermont as far as the whiteness factor. Now, when a sista decided to move here 6 years ago, I knew it was white but I figured what the hell, I already own one white person (aka spousal unit) and despite growing up in Chicago I attended predominantly white schools, so I felt as comfortable as a sista can around white folks. Heck, I figured one white person is about the same as another, how different could the Maine white folks be versus Chi-town whites or my own California version?

Well I would soon learn, they are a little different out here, for starters they all seem to have a deep love affair with fleece and anything that comes from LL Bean. Now in the defense of my fellow white Mainers, LL Bean is headquartered in Maine, so that makes sense and while I do find most fleece clothing lacking on the style factor, the reality is its cold as shit here 11 out of 12 months (nah, I am kidding its cold 8 out of 12 months, on the real I generally turn my heat off in June and that is real.. mind you I am from Chicago so I know cold weather, here it’s not hawk cold like in Chicago, it’s a low-grade type of cold that never ends).

However the one area that I discovered where Mainers are different from the folks back home is with regards to their deep and abiding love for their dogs. Now to be totally stereotypical, in general it seems white folks love the dog’s way more than Black folks. I have known Black folks who loved their dogs but it just isn’t the same. Back in Chicago, my biggest gripe with dogs was that folks seemed to never want to keep em on leashes or they would use a leash so damn long that you wondered why they even bothered.  That said, most of my dog issues back home were in my neighborhood, so I could reasonably assume that if I went to downtown Chicago, I didn’t have to worry about seeing dogs. It was an understanding, you keep the dogs at home, the park, or near your home.

Mainers though, well, they take their dogs everywhere and I don’t mean that jokingly, I have seen pooches sitting patiently in the car at the movie theatre parking lot. Um, why? Seriously, the average movie is at least an hour and a half if not longer with previews, you cannot bring Fido in the theatre so it seems to me, Fido would be happier at the crib chilling out. I have seen dogs at eating establishments in our largest city despite the fact that there are laws forbidding such things, yet I guess the general assumption is everyone likes dogs.. Who cares if Fido is running around while you are enjoying a latte or in a real life example trying to get a burrito?  Most Maine folks don’t but guess what I do, I don’t like dogs, I used to be extremely scared of dogs, now that fear is only reserved for large dogs and scary breeds aka Pitbulls, dogs of that ilk.

Which brings me to last night, the family and I went to a street festival in town, gorgeous night to walk and partake of some good greasy french fries and other foods I generally avoid. So how come my night was almost ruined by folks strolling around at a festival/fireworks with dogs? Not cute lil dogs, no folks walking Rottweilers and Pitbulls at a family festival, come on now what the hell is that all about?

I guess I was more bothered because just a few days earlier a dear sista friend originally from NYC who lives here in Maine, contacted me about a situation she was having with dogs. She has asthma and was trying to connect with a group of folks for a work retreat and she simply asked the leader of this get together to not bring the dog because she has asthma, well long story short, leader woman who is a  White Mainer said no, the dog is family and he goes where I go.

Well, as you can imagine that spawned some heated dialogue but for both my girl and I we realized that culturally Black folks just don’t dig on the dogs like White folks do. I have a Black girlfriend here who has a large dog and whenever she invites me over, she has no problem putting the dog up for the few hours I am going to be over. Yet with white folks, you ask can they move the dog so you can breathe and they act like you tried to smack the shit out of em.

Its cultural differences like that, that despite folks like me being married to a white guy and Obama being the Democratic nominee for president that keep me aware that we have a long way to go before white folks and black folks will truly connect. It’s cool to love your dog but damn what about the humans?

Computer Beg-a-thon Needs You!

OK, I have realized that quite of few of my regular readers were definitely put off by my recent announcement of the BGIM computer beg-a-thon in the wake of my workhorse computer catching a nasty virus that turned it from a machine I can work on to basically being able to only surf the web with. Even that is janky at times.

I understand that here in America, talk of money or lack thereof is viewed as tacky and frankly makes folks feel uncomfortable and that most certainly was not my intent. On the other hand, I like to think if you are a regular reader, well we are friends and well friends share the things that are going on in each others’ lives and might even say can ya help a homie out!

In a little over two years, I have built up a comfortable readership and loved interacting with those who take the time to either email, comment on the blog or follow me on Twitter. I have actually even had the chance to meet a few of ya’ll in real life and there are definitely a few more than I hope to meet in the near future. You guys rock!

Which is why when I realized that my computer was fucked, I thought I would take the bold move of running an online beg-a-thon to see if anyone could or would help out. I chose to make my blog’s home here at WordPress because I think they run a lovely user friendly operation, also rarely do you see ads. In fact I can’t have ads and frankly that is fine by me. In the blog world, its big business to monetize your blog and sure I’d like to earn a few extra shekels…who wouldn’t? But the fact is I blog because I enjoy it and I am just into it for the fun of it. I’m a big mouth who likes to talk and the blog affords me that opportunity.

However it does mean that since I work in the non-profit sector, am married to a freelance writer, got a kid in college and am not monetizing this blog, when stuff happens like my laptop dies…well I need a little help from my friends. (or in this case readers, though real life friends who want to donate to the cause, please do…I’ll bake my famous banana chocolate chip muffins for you)

I am not the first blogger to pass the hat around and I won’t be the last but in light of the fact that while the beg-a-thon started off good, it seems to have fizzled but my need for a computer has not. So while I don’t want to turn off any readers, I do want to say that hey, if you got a few bucks to spare, think of me. 🙂

PS: While I would like to move away from PC’s based off my incredibly bad luck with them (4PC’s…3 of them laptops in the past 8 years) I am not married to the idea of a Mac, its just my first choice, though at the this point a good dependable laptop is my priority. The reason that I am adding this is I have had several folks contact me on why I want a Mac rather than a PC since PC’s are cheaper. Also while Linux may be groovy, after doing some research, I think I am not quite tech savvy enough to be messing with Linux, so while using Linux would be the cheapest option, I know my limitations.

It’s not all about us

Once upon a time in a world not that long ago, people who chose to have children understood that the end goal was to raise the kids to be productive members of society. It was understood that well, the babies don’t stay babies and that while it’s bittersweet to think of our precious babes as grown ups… fact is it happens. Then my generation (that would be Gen X’ers) started having babies and well, many of us were unhappy with our upbringing and we swore we would do better than our parents. Damn our parents for working, divorcing or whatever crimes against us they committed. We would become Super-Parents! All the things we never got, by Golly Miss Molly our precious babes would get…and before you get snippy please know I am guilty of this. My folks had very little in terms of financial resources and I have struggled with being overly generous and never saying no to either of my kids as far as things and possessing things. It took getting a child who I swear was born with a materialistic streak to realize this never saying no is not a great idea.

In modern day parenting being a super parent often means always being with our child and never allowing them to quite grow up. I remember at 18, I was definitely an adult, shit I was married and with child. Now I definitely don’t think most 18 year olds should follow that path and I am quite thankful that elder child now known as college boy did not choose my path, on the other hand I think 18 year olds are most certainly capable of being the young adults that developmentally and legally most of them are.

The problem is super parenting creates a screen where we never quite see our kids in the correct developmental stage and well you have issues like this. For those not interested in clicking, the piece talks about how more and more colleges have to create diversions and tricks to get parents off the college campus when parents come to take their offspring to college. Many of us are so used to guiding the process for our kids that we are having a hard time letting go despite the fact its healthy for both parent and kids to let go.

However the way I see it this problem now starts early, in our eagerness to enjoy our kid’s youth many of us no longer feel the need to start the slow dance of growing up at the early stages. Home schooling which I have no beef with has surged in this country, and while there are plenty of places in the US where the schools are shitty, homeschooling is most certainly a better alternative to sending your kids to the shitty local schools. (There are also kids and situations too numerous for me to delve into where again homeschooling is a great choice) But in some cases people choose the homeschooling path because they simply cannot bear to be away from their progeny the 6-7 hours a day that kids spend in school. Hey, if that works for you and yours who am I to complain? But just remember generally speaking a day will come when the birdies will want to stretch their wings beyond your nest and you need to be prepared for that.

On the flip-side we have folks who send their kids to school yet cannot abide by the rules in matters such as dropping kids off and not walking the kids to the classroom. This is a big hot button issue for many, the kidlet starts kindergarten in two weeks and I have already be warned by my Mama friends who have kids at her school that even for the little’s, the expectation is that we the parents will drop them off with their teacher and classroom outside and the class enters the building together. I admit last year when I heard this I was emotional and weepy about it, now at 5 though and knowing that my girl is ready, this policy makes sense.

Maybe its because I did a brief stint as a teacher of kids before I taught adults some years ago but let me tell you, if 15-20 sets of parents bum rushed the classroom in the morning with their kiddos, let’s be honest…chaos! It’s already hard enough for a teacher to get the kids acclimated and adjusted to the classroom without a Mama Bear hanging in the wings. I know when the kidlet was in preschool, whenever I attempted to take her and stay a few minutes afterward, it was always a bad idea. My presence did not calm her instead she looked to me and often figured since I was present that listening to the teacher and following the instructions was optional since obviously Mama’s presence overrode the teacher. After a few weeks of sensing the teacher mentally sending me the “Mama Bear be gone” vibes, I kept my presence to a minimum and kidlet not only loved preschool but thrived and made deep connections to her classmates and teachers.

I wonder if because I was so young when my firstborn entered school that  many of the issues that are stressing my parental peers out make no damn sense to me. (I was weepy when the boy started school but it also seemed amazing that we had hit a milestone) Hell, in many ways going to school is a milestone, yes its an emotional thing but to actually say well fuck we are not going to follow the rules, well that is wrong. See I moderate a parenting discussion board and many Mamas have stated that rules be damned but they will be walking their kids in the classroom and staying to make sure little Dakota & Tiger are okay in the classroom.

Alrighty now…but let me ask you as parents we model the behaviors that eventually our kids will come to see as acceptable and maybe I am confused but blatant disrespect for the rules in an institution you have agreed to be a part of seems wrong. Yeah, if a rule is unjust definitely fight it, but even in choosing to fight unjust rules there is a way to go about it and do it in a manner that is still respectful.

Our kids are watching us and yet when they grow up and seem too focused on self if what they have observed us doing is thwarting rules and focusing on our needs well how can we be mad? Guess what? It’s not all about us…we live in a world with many and need to be mindful of others.