Dani Stone

I Hear Laugh Tracks

Kansas, We Need To Talk

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kansas wheatfield

Kansas. You’re killing me.

As a lifelong resident I’ve played on your prairie land, attended your schools, hidden from your tornadoes and always maintained a sense of pride about hailing from the boxiest  state on the map. Over the years, I’ve cringed when the media called you, “backward,” “slow” “unhealthy” and that time you were named the worst city to live in for allergy sufferers. *reaches for another Kleenex* Even though I think that one is. . . *sniff*. . . totally true.

I’ve endured countless jokes about the Wizard of Oz connection and when I’ve traveled beyond these flat plains, I’ve laughed politely when people in other states reminded me, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, are ya?” Ahhh, that never gets old. *whisper* It totally does. Hell, I’ve even paid tribute to and capitalized on Kansas’ kitsch by making it a central theme in my short story, “No Place Like Home,” as well as, my novelette, “Next Left.” *ahem* Shameless plug.

But now, Kansas, you and I have a problem. Lately your lawmakers have been drinking the crazy Koolaid and once again, the world is taking notice. Last night I saw this tweet from The Daily Show:

I saw it and knew EXACTLY what Jon Stewart was going to talk about because the past two weeks have been a doozy around here, and not a good doozy. A very bad no good doozy. Here’s a recap.

House Bill 2453: Otherwise known as, “The Religious Freedom Act.” The bill sought protection for businesses and government employees who wished to discriminate against same-sex couples. Sooooo, freedom for some, but not for all? Is this what we’re proposing here, Kansas? Even though the House passed the bill, thankfully, the Senate president stepped in and blocked it.

In my mind I like to believe she stood defiantly in a white karate uniform and had two people hold a block of wood in front of her that said, “House Bill 2453.” Then she tightened her black belt and performed a roundhouse kick, splitting the board in two pieces while the song “You’re The Best Around,” blared over the speakers. Why yes, that was a Karate Kid reference, thank you for noticing.

Apparently the bill was an, “embarrassment to the state.” Gee, ya think? While 17 states have legalized same-sex marriage and are happily enjoying their spot on the right side of history, back in good ole Kansas, we not only want to block same-sex couples from getting married, we also want to stop them from spreading their gay cooties in some of our establishments.

HB 2453 is sick and disgraceful, and we should want better for our state, our people and especially our children but APPARENTLY, some of us just want the ability to smack the crap out our kids without the authorities getting all bent about it. Let’s chat about Bill 2699.

House Bill 2699: This precious little piece of legislature would’ve allowed parents (and those authorized by parents) to hit their children, “hard enough to leave a mark or bruise.” Evidently the bill was drawn up because the representative wanted to, “define” corporal punishment and provide, “guidance.” Thankfully, IT has been spanked and didn’t make it past the House Committee floor. Good riddance.

Children are pliable little sponges who soak up everything we throw at them, good and bad. They can also be defiant little bastards who tapdance on boundaries, test limits and often vocalize their feelings like howler monkeys. Even when they grow out of the emotionally-charged cyclone toddler stage and sulk into their teens, they are still CHILDREN. Corporal punishment is just that, PUNISHMENT. It does not teach, it’s not an attention getter, and if your excuse for hitting your kid is, “I got beat with a belt when I was a kid and I turned out just fine,” I say, you turned out fine in “spite of.”

As parents we need to be smarter about discipline. Hitting is easy. Hitting is grown folk getting out their frustration in the heat of the moment, and it’s certainly not making the kind of lasting impression you want your kids to have about you. Violent intimidation breeds contempt, not respect. 

And if you think I believe the way I do because I must have, “easy kids,” then you’re only half right. While my youngest is a rule-follower and lives to please, my first born is a bit more of a challenge. He’s emotional, obstinate, and can be downright disrespectful leaving my husband and I to scratch our heads because we’re not sure what to do next. This young man will not be easy to parent, but that’s because he has an abundance of intelligence, passion and pluck that his brain is just not mature enough to handle yet. As parents, my husband and I are required to set limits, teach empathy, instill values, love unconditionally and try to steer him back on the right path when he stomps off of it in a huff.

We will make mistakes. We have already made mistakes. But we will never, ever use brute force to get our point across. We’re smarter than that, and so is he.

Right now the country should be talking about the undefeated college basketball program of the Wichita State Shockers and how they’re tearing it up across the country. People should be declaring, “The Shockers are from Wichita. Perhaps we should visit there,” instead of cocking their head to the side and asking, “The Shockers are from Wichita? You know that’s the place that tried to discriminate against gay couples and pass a bill to smack their kids around, right? What’s going on over there?”

What’s going on, indeed!

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3 thoughts on “Kansas, We Need To Talk

  1. One of the best posts I have ever read. Congratulations, Dani, for such an outstanding article. We give you our “SINCEREST THANKS AND APPRECIATION”.

  2. Aaaamen Sister! Sing it!

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