Say It Ain’t So, Joe?

Baseball.
America’s pastime.
Cracker Jacks and hot dogs.
Iced cold sodas and even colder beers.
Three hours of pure Americana– a timeless sport of modern heroes.
The strike of the ball, the swing of the bat, the crowd.
A coalescence of all walks of like coming together to cheer on the home team.

Danger.  Danger.  Warning, Will Robinson.  Warning, Will Robinson.

A coalescence?
Absolutely in 1950.
Definitely in 1980.
Probably in 2000.
Today?

It is almost impossible for an average American family to attend a ball game.  I find this reality to be somewhat of a tragedy, a precursor signaling the onset of the “us and them” attitudes of the rich and average.

We are a family of five.  My husband and I both work full-time.  We pay our mortgage, our car payments, and our taxes.  We find enough money to support the kids’ activities, and in the summer, when the city is bustling, we want to get involved and have our children experience life for all it has to offer.  We want them to feel a kinship with their fellow Clevelanders and become true enthusiasts and supporters of all this city has to offer.

“Let’s go to a ballgame!” 

What a great idea!

Then I look at ticket prices.

Within the last five years, what used to be a twenty dollar ticket  has skyrocketed to $55.00 a seat.  How do I justify spending close to $300.00 just to walk through the door (I’m taking into account Ticketmaster charges and parking)?   Once I factor in concessions, we are probably looking at another $100.00.  What middle class American family can afford to attend multiple games in the summer knowing this is what they will be spending?   Sure, we could go to one, maybe even two, but I LOVE baseball and I want to attend more than that!

I try to rationalize.

It’s only money.  Sounds good until I look at my checking account and sure wish I had an extra four bills to put toward the landscaping project in the backyard.

Tom and I could just go.  Well dang it, that defeats the whole “family” thing I’ve got going on.

We could pawn two off at a time, and only take one at a time.  Yes, we could do that, but the bonds of sisterhood can be formed over a blustering rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” that lands them all beaming on the jumbotron.

So, I am left with a few options: break the bank or skip the game and feel a slight sense of guilt because I cannot afford to give my children what I want them to have.

I guess baseball has finally entered into the arena with all other major league sports.  The problem is that no other sport plays 164 games in regular season.  The other sports can charge more because in a world of supply and demand, there are less seats in relation to the length of the season.  When taking into consideration they Browns only play eight home games, it is much easier to rationalize a more expensive seat.

Maybe the sport of baseball will remember that they need me to be able to bring my girls to five or six games a year so that they will develop into the baseball aficionados that I am, and someday, want to share the love of the sport with their own children.

Our family used to try to support the Indians a few times a year.  However, it seems impossible.  Maybe its just a sign of the times.  Baseball has moved itself into the realm of the other major markets who aren’t looking at “the family” as their customer any longer.

Sometimes, when I want to be able to embrace the spirit of sitting in the ballpark, I feel as if I have been tricked.  I feel as disappointed as that young fan standing outside the courthouse in 1920; the boy who thought of Joe Jackson as a paladin: a regular guy living out a dream one home run at a time.  However, it was a ruse, a curveball of the greatest proportions.  “Say it ain’t so Joe.”  Maybe, the greed of Joe Jackson has always been the driving stimulus of our sport, and I have been tricked into believing they were playing for me, my city, and for the love of the game itself.

 

 

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21st Century Childhood Allowance: Contracted Labor

A few weeks back, I wrote a blog about motivating my children to do work around the house.  None of them are very motivated, and I have found in the past that offering a blanketed amount for a week’s worth of duties left me with less money in my wallet for less than par performances.

My two younger daughters, nine and eleven-years old respectively, have finally learned that saving money for something they really want has a higher sense of gratification than running to the dollar aisle at Target every time she has a buck or two.  Maggie recently saved for a Captain America Build-A-Bear, and Lizzie saved for an American Girl gymnastics set.  However, they have each learned that without a regular way of earning money, it is difficult to set her sights on something big because she is unable to make a timeline and work toward that goal.

This morning, after a very long conversation with Lizzie, the nine-year old, I decided to reinstitute allowance.  However, I refuse to allow for the handing over of moneys for the same level of effort I am getting at present.  Hence, I drew up two unique contracts for each girl, I had their father act as witness and legal advisor, and he, on their behalf, agreed to the wording and terms of my contract.

They have been signed.  Schedules have been made, and who knows what the results will be.   Hopefully, the girls will learn that their performance effects their pay; they will learn that economic survival is about one’s willingness to perform; and they will learn that earning money is actually rewarding and can lead to an early retirement!

Here is Lizzie’s contract:  (Moms, feel free to borrow my idea!)

I, ______________________________, not bound by the contract of habeas corpus, do agree that by the signing of this said legal document, that I will do my best to perform each activity listed so that I can earn a fair wage in the Huffer household.

I understand that by signing this document that I am aware that if I perform each activity to the best of my ability, I will be awarded a bonus for each activity a week. Likewise, I understand that if I do not meet said criteria, not only do I forfeit my bonus, but that my weekly allotment will be less because of my laziness.

In addition, mother and/or father have the right to ask me to take on an up to two extra duties a day that do not meet the requirements for compensation. These duties include, but are not limited to: picking up wet towels, taking paper to the paper pile, hang up my coat, taking cans and glass to recycling, etc.

If at any point I feel that I am asked to do an activity that is time consuming, it is in my legal right to negotiate for compensation for said activity.

Compensation Schedule:

I will make my bed and pick up my floor every morning for $.25. At the end of the week, if I have performed said activity each morning, I will have earned $1.75. However, I may also earn a bonus $.25 for performing this job for seven consecutive days, taking my earnings for said activity for the week to $2.00.

I will at the end of each evening, pick up all of my belongings off of the kitchen table, the tables in the living room, the living room floor, and the basement floor and put them in their specified locations: books should return to the book bag, toys to their proper location, and any other belongings should be placed NEATLY in my room. This assignment will also earn me $.25 a day with a bonus of $.25 at the end of the week if I perform my activity for seven consecutive days.

I will empty the dishwasher every day. As with the other activities, I will earn $.25 a day with a bonus at the end of the week of $.25, after I have executed my responsibility for seven consecutive days.

Lastly, on laundry day, I will be afforded $.50 for putting all of my laundry away NEATLY and appropriately. I must bring down my hamper to have my clothes washed, and I must bring down all hangars in my closet that are not supporting my clothing at the time.

If I perform all of these activities each week, I have the opportunity to earn $6.50 a week. However, I understand that my pay is solely based on my diligence to perform each activity each day.

 

Print your name ____________________________                    Date _______________________________________

 

Signature _________________________________                     Witness _____________________________________

 

Mother ___________________________________

Dear Ishmael,

You don’t know me, yet I feel like I know you.  I recently had the opportunity not only to read A Long Way Gone, but I had a chance to experience its pages in a way many people do not.  My co-teacher in the SITES program chose your book in his study of global issues.  Having never read the book, I chose to read it with our students, so that I could engage in conversation in class.

As a child of literature yourself, you may know that sometimes, a book can speak to us in a way we do not expect.

For me, maybe it was that I had just finished teaching Paul Rusesabagina’s Ordinary Man and I found the parallel between the two stories haunting.   Maybe it was the moment in our first discussion when one of our students pointed to a passage that I myself could not shake, “We must always strive to be like the moon,” and a ten minute discussion followed analyzing the truth and wisdom of these words.  Maybe it was the fact that you wrote so poignantly that I was able to transcend the delicate refinements of my life to see what I think you want everyone who reads your book to see: even though mankind can terrorize one another and bring pain and hardship, what matters is what we do after the experience.  This book, your book, stays with me because by the end, I felt strengthened by a feeling that already existed in my heart: if I only allow myself to experience man when he is at his worst, I may never know man for the potential he has: for his beauty, for his amiability, and for his love.

Last night, I had the opportunity to hear you speak.  As someone who is constantly analyzing my own place in the world, I felt like a child in a classroom.  Your story and strength of the first book were inspirational, but the limitlessness of your spirit is profound.  You are correct in your theory that happiness should not be measured by stretches of time.  It is not to be measured, but it is to be experienced.  Ultimately,  you were the victim of childhood captivity; without an alternative, you were forced to be a soldier. Yet, despite the reality of your past,  you have allowed yourself to heal, you have allowed yourself to eclipse a world speckled with hatred so that you can live again.

Standing in line with my students eagerly waiting to get your new novel Radiance of Tomorrow signed, I felt renewed.  I felt that within the hour of listening to you speak, my understanding of mankind deepened.  Ishmael, for me you rejuvenated truth:  Many people will enter our lives and they will see the flicker of our eternal flame.  Some of those people will want to extinguish it, and if given the opportunity, they will.  However, others will see us for what we are, for what we can be.  These people will take one of two actions: They will either do everything in their power to relight the flame, or seeing that it still flickers, they will protect it, nurture it, and wait for it be what it was meant to be.  Each of us has a light inside, and with the proper guidance and nurturing, it will blaze and we will live to our full potential: hopeful creatures, dedicated individuals, and spiritual heroes.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for not only signing my book but for touching my life.