Banks County Opinions...

MAY 5, 2004


Column

By: Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
May 5, 2004

It’s not what you know, it’s how you ‘no’ it
Going to the grocery store shouldn’t be that big of a challenge. And most of the time it’s not. But going to the grocery store with three kids ought to be an Olympic sport. If it were, I’d already be in Athens, Greece.
I tend to go to grocery stores only because that’s where most of the food is located. Unlike my daughters, I really don’t get that explosive Christmas morning feeling when I walk in the door. In keeping with the genetic makeup of men, it’s all business to me — take it off the shelf, pay for it, leave.
As a result, I’ve had to come up with a few Grocery Shopping Survival Techniques when shopping with my children. First, I never get a shopping cart. It’s almost impossible to maneuver through the store with three lumps of dead weight attached to the sides like shipwrecked sailors hugging a life raft.
Second, I never take a list. Grocery shopping with kids requires speed and an uncluttered mind. The best approach is to dash up and down the aisles randomly grabbing stuff as you go. A well paced sprint leaves the kids floundering in my wake, hopelessly struggling to keep up.
But more important than the physical side of grocery shopping is the mental side. Upon arrival at the store, I go into a transcendental state of numbness during which I’m only able to utter a single word: “No.”
It’s the auto pilot mode. No matter what the question, comment, or gesture, the response from me is “no.” And I’ve learned that there are two mystical ways to become “one” with grocery shopping.
The first one is where I reflexively say “No” to any sounds within hearing distance. I basically become the grocery shopping equivalent of Pavlov’s dog. While it’s pretty much foolproof, it has certain drawbacks — even when the fire alarm goes off and everyone is making for the nearest exit, the answer is still an automatic “No.”
Besides that, it tends to drain my batteries, sometimes causing me to come to a dead stop in the frozen foods section. Eventually, someone will fetch the store manager who has to drag a long cord out of the back to recharge me.
That’s why I usually rely on the second technique. That’s where I program myself to say “no” at 30-second intervals. That means that I’m actually saying “no” every so often whether the girls are asking for anything or not.
Research shows that, on average, children engage in asking, begging, pleading, and throwing down every 15 seconds or so while in a grocery store. By allowing an extra 15 seconds for them to locate me while dragging along a 12-pound bag of Tasty Grease Balls, my “no” actually kicks in a millisecond after the request is made.
When it comes time to check out, I automatically accelerate to saying “no” virtually nonstop to account for the fact that the grocery store intentionally places all the serious goodies at the check out line.
That makes it hard to interact with the cashier, but the chanting is effective only if I continue to say “no” while checking out, exiting the store, driving home, putting up the groceries, and fixing dinner.
Being on auto-pilot allows me to successfully complete my grocery mission. It does result, however, in everyone else in the store avoiding me like an ax murderer as I run from aisle to aisle all the while involuntarily shouting “no” to myself.
But that’s not all bad. Being perceived as a demented ax murderer by everyone else in the store means that every lane in the store is an express lane for us.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.

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Column

By: Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
May 5, 2004

Caretaking, peacemaking and politics
We think of Mother’s Day (coming up Sunday, by the way!) as an opportunity to pamper our mother, a day for mom to take time out for herself or at least a chance for us to say thank you and acknowledge all that “mother” encompasses.
I was interested, but not totally surprised, to learn (from womenshistory.about.com) that “Mother’s Day” actually has some of its roots in women filling a more selfless caretaking and peacemaking role than one in which they could sit back and take it easy. Add a graveside vow and the political climate for women’s rights and the final result was a Mother’s Day resolution signed by the president in 1914.
There were the ancient celebrations of the mother goddess and various rites of spring dealing with birth and fertility, but I learned that, in more recent years — “recent” from the standpoint of the 1850s in West Virginia as compared to the ancient Greeks and Romans and Celtic Europe — the idea of a day for mothers also evolved from “Mothers’ Work Days.”
Anna Reeves Jarvis, who was a teacher and church member in Grafton, W. Va., in the 1850s, wanted to establish such mothers’ work days to improve the sanitation of her town. Then, during the Civil War years, she expanded the idea to include improving sanitary conditions for soldiers on both sides of the conflict.
Julia Ward Howe, known for writing the words of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” was also involved in an effort to establish a day for mothers — or, rather, on the heels of the bloody Civil War, a Mother’s Day for Peace, to be celebrated on June 2. After Howe began promoting the idea in 1872, women in 18 cities held Mother’s Day for Peace gatherings the next year. Although celebrations continued in some places for 30 years, most died out after Howe was no longer funding them; while the Mother’s Day for Peace had some element of highlighting women in the “public arena,” Howe turned her attention to other matters of women’s rights and peace.
It was Anna Jarvis, daughter of Anna Reeves Jarvis, who established the Mothers’ Work Days in West Virginia in the 1850s, who then worked for many years on behalf of her mother to have a day officially recognized “to honor mothers living and dead.”
Story has it that Anna Jarvis swore at her mother’s gravesite in 1905 to have a Mother’s Day set aside. While 46 states and Canada were holding Mother’s Day services by 1909, it took Jarvis nine years to get a national resolution for recognition of Mother’s Day signed. In 1912, West Virginia was the first state to adopt a Mother’s Day, and in 1914, Congress passed a joint resolution, which was signed by President Woodrow Wilson, recognizing “the role of the woman in the family” — but not as “activists in the public arena,” as originally proposed by Howe. (Consider the context. By this time, the women’s rights movement had been active for years, and, nationally, women were continuing to seek more equality in the “public arena,” including the right to vote and earn their wages in ways and with values equal to men.)
Although Anna Jarvis originally began passing out carnations, her mother’s favorite flower, in her effort to have Mother’s Day recognized, she became increasingly concerned about the commercialization of the day, saying that it should be a day of sentiment, not one of profit, and that greeting cards were “a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write.”
And, in fact, according to Hallmark sources, 96 percent of American consumers participate in Mother’s Day in some way, and for florists, it is one of the busiest days. Mother’s Day is noted as the peak day for long-distance phone calls and as one of the busiest days for restaurants.
So were Jarvis’ fears realized? Still, the day she fought for remains set aside, however it is acknowledged — by card, by flowers, by letter or phone call.
Changing times have brought changes to the demographics of “mother.” In 2000, statistics showed that about half the number of young women were mothers compared to the figure given for the 1950s. Many homes now have two working parents or single parents, and mothers at work in the home and in the public arena juggle myriad responsibilities. Still, I’d be willing to bet that, at heart, “mother” hasn’t changed all that much.
Thinking of your mother? Let her know.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor for The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.


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