Bluebonnets and Mistletoe

Growing up in Oklahoma gives a person a certain amount of disdain for the state of Texas. It’s probably roughly akin to a little sibling who feels they are always in the shadow of their bigger and more popular brother or sister. After living here for over 15 years, I’ve softened a bit, but haven’t quite reached the point where I am proud to live here. My children, on the other hand, were born and raised here. They are, of course, proud Texans.

I don’t remember how old she was – maybe 6 or 7. It was before our third child was born. One day my daughter asked me, “Mommy, why did you and Daddy move to Texas?” I told her we were still trying to figure that out. She looked confused and I laughed and said, “No, honey. We moved here because this is where I got a job.” Her response? “Oh, I thought it was because you wanted {my brother} and I to be Texans!”… “No, actually, we’re still kind of upset about that.”

It’s not something I thought about as a kid. I learned all about Oklahoma history: the 5 civilized tribes, the trail of tears, the land runs, and so much more. It never occurred to me that kids in other states learned about their state history. I never really thought about it until my daughter started coming home from school spouting off Texas facts. That’s when I realized that she wouldn’t know all the words to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” unless I taught her. She wouldn’t know that the state flower is actually a parasite and she wouldn’t participate in a land run re-enactment in the fourth grade.

That last one kind of hurt. I loved the land run. I remember fretting for weeks that it might rain. There was a big field by the school where the land run was held. Your “family” would pull your wagon that you had made and race out into the field to grab a stake and take it to the claims office. Then you’d have a picnic lunch on your new land. If it rained, everyone just paraded their wagons around the edge of the cafeteria and then sat down to eat. Boring.

My daughter wasn’t to have such an experience. Instead, for fourth grade, she built a model of the Alamo. She made hers out of Lego’s. Some of the others were very impressively detailed. Still, didn’t seem like as much fun as our Land Runs. And to think I used to be intimidated!

The relative merit of the states has come up before in this house divided. When The Oldest was 10 and The Middle was 7, the following exchange took place.

TO: “I think Texas is the best of the 50 states. Or maybe Oklahoma.” ( I think the second sentence was a concession to make sure she stayed in parental good graces).
Dad: “I dunno. I like Wyoming.”
TO: “Me too!” (She’s never been there but always wants to be right).
TM: “I like Mexico.”

In February of this year, The Baby, at age 3, came up to me with a “pirate” eye patch on and said, “Howdy, Partner!” I explained that pirates wouldn’t say “Howdy, Partner” but he insisted I was wrong. The next day, he came up, again with the eye patch on, and said, “Howdy, Matie!” My husband said I was just going to have to accept that he is a Texas pirate.

And Texans, they are indeed. The Oldest had a splendid teacher when she was two. The woman also had a very strong Texas twang. Consequently, The Oldest did too for a time. I was quite dismayed. It has worn off over time but pops up from time to time. She recently said something with a bit too much twang and then said, “Dang! My Texas accent slipped through again.” I responded by talking like a hick with stuff like “we was” and “we seen” and “ain’t”. She informed me: “I said Texas accent, not Texas grammar.”

I’m learning to have fun with it and to not be afraid to admit that I don’t know basic facts that they’ve learned every year. Like which flags flew over Texas. I got Spain and Mexico and the Confederacy and the US. I learned from The Oldest that France was one of them. That got us to 5. Then she said, “and The Republic of Texas.” To which I replied, “Oh, yeah. I forgot you guys have that whole ‘we were our own country’ thing going on.” Then The Middle chimed in, “and then they took those 6 flags and made an amusement park with them!”

So we are getting along OK. Now that I can name those six flags, maybe it’s time they learned how the wind comes sweeping down the plain. And the waving wheat, can sure smell sweet, when the wind comes right behind the rain! I just hope they don’t look at me too funny when I yell “Ay yippy yi ki yea!” near the end.