Banks County Opinions...

March 6, 2002


Editorial

The Banks County News
March 6, 2002

Take time to read
In today’s hectic world, there often isn’t enough time to get everything done. With church, work and family obligations, some things are likely to get left out of the daily routine.
Reading is one of those things that shouldn’t get pushed aside. Without reading, we couldn’t read a newspaper, use the Internet, get a driver’s license, fill out an order form, vote, follow a map, try out a new recipe, look up phone numbers, set the VCR or read to a child.
It is especially important to remember the importance of reading as Read Across America is celebrated in March.
Read Across America not only celebrates the joys of reading, but also honors Dr. Seuss, whose birthday falls on March 2.
Statistics gathered by the National Educator’s Association point to children who were read to at home as having a higher success rate in school. With this in mind, the following tips are offered to parents:
•Read with expression using different voices for different characters.
•Look for books that are about things that interest your toddler.
•Making reading a habit before bed time, after lunch or after nap time.
•To toddlers, read stories again and again. They enjoy repetition and it helps them become familiar with the way stories are organized.
•With school-age children, take turns reading with your child.. Talk about the meaning of new words and ideas introduced in books.
•Get a subscription in your child’s name to an age-appropriate magazine. •Most important of all, remember to set a good example as a reader. Let the kids see you reading every day.

Column

By: Phillip Sartain
T
he Banks County News
March 6, 2002

The politics of dogs
Up until just recently, my position on pets was not hard to figure out. I’ve had one pet in my adulthood, and my dog Jack was my personal assistant for twelve years. After he died, I publicly announced that I didn’t have the time to ignore another pet. Unfortunately, none of my children were old enough at the time to read my public announcements.
As it turns out, my kids are no different from any other kids. Well, maybe a little. But when it comes to pets, they made the same incessant pleas for a puppy as all the other kids their age. In the wake of Jack’s passing, I confronted their pleadings head-on and forthrightly.
“Kids, we can’t have a pet,” I told them soberly.
“Why not?” they whined like professionals.
I paused for effect, and chose my words carefully. “Well, you see, your mother is deathly allergic to all types of animals. If we got a pet, she’d have to go into a sanitarium and take fifteen shots a day for a whole year. And she couldn’t cook for us.”
That excuse worked for a while. At least up until Lydia found out that they cheered the no cooking part. After that, it was harder and harder to come up with legitimate excuses for not having a pet. And then last month, I hit the pet request wall. I ran completely out of bizarre reasons not to have a pet.
That fact, combined with an innocent trip to the Humane Society, painted me into a pet corner. So we went down to the pound and got a puppy. Almost immediately, I entered the surreal world of Pet Politics.
It’s not exactly a voting type of thing. And nobody runs for dogcatcher. Instead, it’s more of a gender politics thing. In other words, my daughters insisted on naming our new dog. “Let’s call him Fefe,” Callie shouted.
“You can’t, it’s a boy dog,” I pointed out. I claimed some expertise in the matter by virtue of previously owning a boy dog.
“Okay, then,” she said. “We’ll call him Marshmallow.” That’s when all the girls cheered and marched the puppy around in the air like he was a trophy or something.
I was understandably embarrassed for the dog. “No,” I asserted. “That’s not a boy dog name. It will damage his male dog ego.”
“What’s a dog ego?” my youngest asked.
In response, I explained how a “he-dog” is a true companion and how they will guard the family and fight bad people to the death and how if you give him a sissy name, he’ll be afraid and will cry and whine all the time about how cold he is and how his hair doesn’t look good and that he doesn’t have anything to wear.
After a minute or two, the girls were all looking at me as if I was the source of all the known dog lore in the world. I could tell I was winning them over to using a name like Ranger or Butch or Hero, and I could even see the puppy starting to buck up just a little. “We’re talking about a dog that’s not afraid to stand tall and take risks. A dog of adventure and great accomplishments. A leader of other dogs—a dog for all times.”
Just as we were about to take a very democratic and spirited vote on the whole matter, my wife, who had been reading the stuff the pound sent home with the dog, interjected, “It says here that your he-dog was neutered last week.”
My middle daughter wanted to know what neutered meant. I felt like it was an appropriate time to teach her something about the facts of life. “It means that his name is Marshmallow,” I said sadly. They all cheered wildly.
Politics is such a humbling experience.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.

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