Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at at time.

Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at a time.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

What to do when the children go "native" in Texas

Last month, many Texas children started school for the first time or returned to school. My daughters started second grade; my friend’s son started first grade. Heather related the tale of Cody telling her about his first day:

“He said, ‘Mama, there’s a new girl in school—but she’s not my girlfriend,” he said.

“What’s her name?” Heather asked.

“I don’t know but it’s OK. She’s from Texas,” Cody replied. Yep. Heather’s boy’s gone native.

Well, of course he has. He was born in Texas. It stands to reason. And I must say I’m very proud of him. I like to think it was my influence that made him that way.

But seriously, folks, if your child was born in Texas, he or she is considered a Texan for life.

For many of you, this is good news. Some, however, will be less than pleased. I don’t know why.

Texas is a great place to raise children. The cost of living is low. There are more than two hundred colleges and universities from which to choose. There are many activities and events to attend as a family. There are a lot of great reasons to live here. But for some people, the shock of hearing their children utter, “y’all” the first time is unnerving.

I hope I can alleviate some of that fear.

Texans are friendly. Your child might develop a tendency to strike up conversations with strangers. Be sure to talk to your child about “stranger danger.” Not everyone is friendly here. But you can delight in the fact that your child will be happy and helpful to you and others.

The chances of your child experiencing a little farm life are better here than most places. You are never far from a pasture in Texas. You might not see that as a plus, but it is. There is no better place to learn life’s lessons than on a farm. Your son or daughter will learn a respect for life and learn the cycle of it on a farm. Farms also are a great place to learn humility. A cow doesn’t really care who you are, what your rank is, what you do for a living or who your daddy’s people were. If you tick her off, she’s liable to kick you or head-butt you, and often without warning. You’ll learn manners real fast.

There’s a lot of debate about Texas schools. We contemplate our independent school districts’ navels all the time. But I can tell you that I send my daughters to a Texas school and I am very confident in the district. I’m a product of Texas public schools and a private Texas college and a state graduate school. I went proudly to Austin College in Sherman, a private college, for my undergraduate degree. You don’t get in that school easily or for being stupid or lazy. We have several private colleges and universities of that same caliber. I hope one day to send my daughters to Austin College or a similar private school. And our state universities are those with which others have to reckon and I don’t mean in just athletics. You have, as I stated earlier, about two hundred from which to choose. Heck, you can’t swing a dead cat in this state without hitting an accredited institution at which you can earn a degree. If you stay in the Lone Star State, your little Texan’s chances of going to school to study what they want while staying home are pretty good.

And by the way, we have fabulous teachers in Texas. I’m the daughter of two of them. I had passionate, pro-active teachers all through my schooling, too. And I will defend their honor every time. Teachers are even better when they have the backing and support of their students’ parents. Don’t believe me? Get positively involved in your little Texan’s education. You’d be surprised how much it makes a difference.

Need to take your family for a vacation? Anywhere you go in Texas, you are sure to find a great adventure. Mountains? We got ‘em. Seashore? Yep, got that too. Desert? Forest? Lakeshore? Yep, yep and yep. And you might not need to drive very far. Then again, you might. This is Texas; the mileage is just a fact of life.

Your little Texan will develop a sense of belonging and cultural pride. It will be a cultural pride that transcends ethnicity. Texans are one people with many languages. In fact, we’ve been “pressing 1 for English” since the 16th Century and that’s all right. Spanish was our first language, along with French, well before it was English. Before that, it was the language of our Native American people. English, my friends, is the late-comer. Our exposure to other languages puts us in a position to become more cosmopolitan than our neighbors and that is a good thing.

The men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and those who fought during the Siege of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto did not distinguish Mexican from American from European. In their hearts, they were “Texians,” and the “Texians” were one people. Through history and the bumps and jolts of the Civil Rights Movement we have drawn even closer to becoming one people. Ask any of us who we are and we will tell you, “I am a Texan.” Not “I’m Scots-English with Spanish, French and German roots,” or “I emigrated from South Korea.” No. It is almost always, “I am a Texan” and the definition of what that means is unique to each one, but clear to all of us.

So when your little one comes home and that tell-tale “y’all” slips out in conversation, don’t panic. Just be proud and know it is simply the first step in your family’s history in becoming real Texans.

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