As I send my kids back to school for another year, I can’t help but be reminded of the “politically correct” society in which we now live. Say the wrong thing and you’re liable to be labeled as narrow-minded. Say the right thing but in the wrong way, and you’re still bound to insult somebody, if not an entire demographic group.
When I was little, things were pretty simple. People with dark skin were “black.” People with pale skin were “white.” People whose ancestors lived in North America before Europeans arrived were “Indians.” If a kid won a race, then that kid got a ribbon or a medal. If he or she lost, then he or she didn’t. If a child’s team won the little league championship, then that child and his teammates got trophies. If the same child’s team stunk and lost every game, then the best he or she got was a hug from their parents and a “We’ll get ‘em next year” from the coach.
When I was growing up, certain behaviors were wrong. Today, pronouncing almost anything as wrong is seen as judgmental. Kids are supposed to be understood, not corrected. They need to be treated, not disciplined.
Political correctness is evident even in preschool. Take for instance the phrase criss-cross applesauce. If you don’t yet have kids or if your kids aren’t old enough for preschool, then you may not be familiar with this phrase. But, if your child is of preschool age or older, then you’ve most likely heard it.
Criss-cross applesauce refers to a way that kids sit on the floor. They sit on their fannies with their legs crossed in front of them. When I was a kid, we used to sit the same way. Only when I was little, the teachers called it sitting “Indian style.” Today, the phrase Indian style is considered offensive. If Indian style offends Native Americans, then I don’t have a problem with changing it. But for cryin’ out loud, can’t we find something better than criss-cross applesauce?
I suppose I’m okay with my daughter sitting “criss-cross applesauce,” but not my sons. I’m sorry, but criss-cross applesauce sounds like a game little girls play at sleepovers. When I was young, if a little boy said the words, “criss-cross applesauce,” it was a safe bet that kid was gonna get beaten up later that day on the playground (quite possibly by a girl).
If Indian style isn’t acceptable, then fine! But let’s be a little less prissy than criss-cross applesauce, shall we? Why not sit Native American style, or Pioneer style, or Army Rangers camping in a desert before they sneak into an al-Qaeda compound and kill radical terrorists style? At least Indian style sounded cool. As little boys, when we sat Indian style, we imagined that we were Navajo braves on the war path or Sioux hunters tracking the mighty buffalo. I’m afraid that when my boys are told to sit “criss-cross applesauce,” they’re picturing themselves tip-toeing through flowers or singing “I Love You, You Love Me” songs to a gender-confused dinosaur named Barney. Nothing against flowers or Barney, I would just rather my boys track some buffalo.
Nope, as far as I’m concerned, you can keep the political correctness. Anybody sitting on their butt with legs crossed in our home is still doing it “Indian style.” We’ll take our applesauce un-criss-crossed, thank you.