Monthly Archives: May 2021

Your voice matters

The weekend before last, my 8 year old had a soccer game. While we were there watching, something very strange was happening. There were two adults roaming the fields policing the mask policy.

This is not a post to discuss the merits of wearing a mask or whether or not you agree with the policy. The two individuals that were on the soccer field that day were going above and beyond any requirements. Here’s a run down of what happened.

My mom, who is someone I consider a mask wearing advocate if you will was sitting outside, more than 10 feet away from anyone else when we arrived and she was sipping her coffee. The lady approached her and reprimanded her for having her mask pulled down and told her she needed to pull it up in between sips.

My daughter, when she was sitting off the field during her rest period, outside and not near anyone and who had her mask pulled down to get some fresh air (she plays soccer with a mask on, which I am not a fan of but we comply) was reprimanded and told to pull her mask back up.

My husband (the coach) was wearing a black gator type mask (he’s running during the games up and down the field too) was handed a medical mask by the man and told her needed to wear that instead of the gator.

I had brought food and was snacking on our blanket, again, outside and seated no where near anyone else and was told I needed to keep my mask up in between bites and then the woman stood off and stared at me for a couple minutes to make sure I got the message.

Many other spectators were sitting spread far apart and were also harassed and one of the girls on my daughters team was distressed watching her grandpa argue loudly with the two Individuals before he was asked to leave.

The whole experience left a very bad taste in my mouth. Again, this is not about the merits of mask wearing to prevent the spread of Covid. For the most part, everyone at the game was complying with the rules. It felt like the two individuals were there to “get people”.

I used to work as an official for the state high school track meet. I remember clearly, the head official telling us all that we were not there to try to “get people out”. We were told to always give warnings to athletes and only disqualify someone when absolutely necessary to ensure fair play. It was supposed to be fun competition and if we did our jobs, most of the time no one knew we were there.

So I go back to the soccer game. Kids and parents are there trying to have fun and the two individuals turned it into something completely different.

My husband sent an email to the organization and apparently many other parents did too. Enough parents complained that they scheduled a virtual meeting about it that very week. My husband was very kind in his email. He just asked for clarification on what exactly the rules are and where they were coming from. He tried to find some of them that people were being harassed about on the soccer page and the health department page and couldn’t find them.

Other parents had these same questions and wanted to know what organization the two individuals represented. We are not involved in baseball or softball but some parents have kids that play baseball and softball too and pointed out the difference in enforcement at the ball fields.

The day after the meeting the soccer organization sent out an email admitting that it was not the county health department enforcing these rules but rather volunteers from within the organization that took it upon themselves to be the mask police under the guise of trying to not get soccer shut down by the health department. They told us they would no longer be roaming the fields, and indeed the next Saturday was a much better experience for all. They then requested that we all follow the rules because the county health department could show up at any time.

This is exactly what happens when people take it upon themselves to be the authority in righteousness. Churches have long been criticized for similar tactics. It’s like this with raising children too. If you try to be too authoritarian, you may win the particular battle but eventually your kids will resent you if your rules are harsh and serve no purpose. They will learn how to not get caught and take pleasure in defying you. However, if you take a more authoritative approach and let your children have as much freedom as possible while also keeping them safe and healthy they will feel respected and in turn have more respect towards you if they feel your rules were fair and that you weren’t just trying to control them. I try to even let my toddler have as much freedom as possible. If it’s not that big of a deal, I give him choices and save the things that are non negotiable for the times I have the authority.

People like to be treated with respect and allowed the maximum amount of freedom to make their own choices. My opinion is that these two individuals are particularly strong advocates of mask wearing and that people who do not want to wear masks in all situations really bother them. They feel they are carrying out some moral responsibility by policing people as though their lives depended upon wearing masks while seated more than 6 feet away from people while outdoors. They are not following the science and they further work to divide people by proving to those that are already against blanket mask mandates that they are more concerned with the morality of it than the science and health.

I think we all need to do our best to lower the temperature. We should speak up when something isn’t sitting right with us, like my husband and many parents did. It should always be done in a respectful way, and then I believe it really does make a difference.

Memory Lane

I went for a run tonight and I ended up running a route that took me back in time.

My house was built in 1991 but many of the houses in the older parts were built in the 80’s and there was something about them that was just calling me tonight. They are clearly older homes from a style long gone. The homes are much smaller, but the majority of them are very well kept and interesting to look at. The landscaping is often elaborate and there are very large trees throughout. It just gives the whole area more of a feel of being in nature.

The newer neighborhoods that I sometimes run through have much bigger houses and everything about them is “new”. I often find it kind of boring scenery with the houses all similar shades and decorated in the new “clean” style. It’s not that I don’t like these new homes, I actually do like them. It’s just that there’s something about this old style that tugs at my heartstrings and makes for a better run.

Maybe it’s because it reminds me of “simpler times.” Sure, I know the 80’s had plenty of its own issues, but looking back on it now, it sure seems better than what’s going on today.

We never had air conditioning when I was a kid. My kids don’t know how we all would grab sleeping bags and sleep in the basement on hot summer nights or how a heavy rain would bring out all the neighborhood kids to go dance. We spent most of our summers outside and the neighborhood kids were our best friends. Our homes weren’t big and beautiful but we didn’t really care. I can still hear the sound that our screen door made as it shut because we literally ran in and out of each other’s houses all day.

But there was something else missing back then too. I’m reminded of it as I pass a house with a sign proudly displaying the families ideology. In this side of the hood, it’s the first and only one I see. Over on our side, it’s more plentiful. I can’t remember a time from my childhood that people posted their ideologies in their front lawn. If I look back, I doubt we knew any of our neighbors political beliefs other than the signs in support of a person in the weeks leading up to an election. I definitely don’t recall my parents ever talking about our neighbors politics.

Today, in this world my children are growing up in, every aspect of life has been politicized. It’s not just outside people’s homes, it’s in their social media profile. It’s in the comment section of every local news story. It’s in the products you buy, it’s in the tv and movies you watch and even medicine has been politicized, and it’s just too much.

I had to wonder at all that’s changed in the last 30 years; the technology, the political divisiveness, the size of our homes. Has it made us happier? It doesn’t seem like it has. People seem angrier than I’ve ever seen in my life. Are our children happier? I’m trying as hard as I can to give my children the kind of childhood I had and I’m so thankful I live in a neighborhood where it’s a reality.

It was nice to take a jog down memory lane and think about the direction our country and the people of it have taken. Maybe it’s wishful thinking to hope our country gets sick of all this polarization and can get back to just respecting one another and leaving politics for the voting booth.

One of my favorite movies of all time, Forrest Gump was from the 90’s. If you watch it today, it’s the ultimate movie of the two “sides” coming together with the marriage of Forrest to Jenny. They were a surprisingly good couple because they balanced each other out. It’s something that seems impossible today. I myself have always been able to see other people’s ideas and beliefs that differ from my own in the light that they are good intentioned. Lately however, I’ve been having a harder time as it’s entrenched every aspect of our entire lives. My husband and I don’t even watch any tv any more. All our favorite shows have some political message or are just a reflection of what’s going on currently and I just feel like I need a break from it. We watched tv for entertainment and to escape reality, not be reminded of it 24/7.

I don’t know where things are headed but if people don’t really change their ways and keep dividing, I fear the great things about the generation I grew up in will be gone forever. I keep thinking “it doesn’t have to be like this”. For us, we will try to raise our children well in a mixed up world. We’ll try to allow them the innocence of their youth as much as we’re able. Childhood is short. I want ours to enjoy it.