The talk…

Many years ago on the day I got my driver’s license my father sat me down and offered a few last minute words of instruction. It had nothing at all to do with the rules of the road, but instead the unwritten rules that apply when being pulled over by the police. You see, even though I’m white and he was a cop, those rules, however unwritten, applied to us too. Frankly, anything that might help mitigate the potential for being accidentally shot for being a non-compliant douchebag during a traffic stop is welcome information as far as I’m concerned.

The advice I got wasn’t anything earth shattering. Wait quietly with your hands on the steering wheel while the officer approaches the vehicle. Follow his or her instructions precisely and answer questions respectfully. Don’t make any sudden movements and don’t get out of the vehicle unless told to do so. For the most part, what he was telling his teenager was not to get stupid and cocky with the cop whose main concern is making sure he gets to go home to his own family that night. Put another way, it’s always best to remember that the life you save may be your own and try to behave accordingly.

See, as far as I can tell, having “the talk” with your kids about how to interact effectively with the police – or with anyone else for that matter – doesn’t make you a saint or a martyr. It makes you a normal parent looking out for the best interest of your kids. It’s just the responsible thing to do.


I’m not a parent. It’s not a decision I’ve ever had a reason to regret. While I haven’t had the direct experience of what it’s like raising kids, I can speculate at least from the perspective of having been one once… contrary to the misguided notions that I was either hatched in a lab or sprung full grown from Zues’ head.

The interwebs are cheering Target’s bold, forward thinking decision to do away with gender-based signs in favor of gender neutrality. The CNN article on the topic quotes a Target shopper as being thrilled because she was “so tired of my daughter trying to play with her best friend (a boy) and him not wanting to because whatever she has is a girl toy. Or not wanting to watch the show she suggested because it’s a girls’ show…”

Now it’s been a long time since I was a kid, but I don’t remember making thoughtful, informed toy choices based on color or what aisle something happened to be in – I wanted GI Joes, Micro Machines, toy guns, and styrofoam airplanes that were guaranteed to crack the first time you threw them. In fairness, growing up we were just as apt to make our own toys out of pointy stick and rocks, spend the afternoon trying to catch frogs, or throw a dam across a stream, knock it down to see the “flood,” and the build it back again as we were to play with anything store bought. I don’t remember my toys ever being so much about gender as about interest.

None of that is really the point though. I don’t rightly care if you want your little Johnny to play with dolls or your little Susie to play with balls (or whatever it is that boys are “supposed” to play with these days). My point is we seem to spend a hell of a lot of time and effort in this country to satisfy whatever wild ass issue of the day one special interest after another comes up with. The better option, if I may be so bold, is for the parents out there to actual do some parenting.

Instead of expecting Target to do it for you, how about you as a parent decide what is an isn’t an acceptable choice for your child. Just because Target or Sears or LL Bean put something in a particular aisle, really shouldn’t flavor how you’re choosing to raise your lovely little hatchling or what you’re encouraging them to play with. Kids, being the ill tempered, uncensored little hoodlums that they are will tell you quickly enough what they want to play with and whether they consider it a “boy toy” or a “girl toy.” That’s a decision for you and them… whether Target puts it in Aisle 4 in a blue box or Aisle 6 in a pink box is likely to be incidental at best.