Meet the Grinch

Highlights from Hair Balls

Education

MEET THE GRINCH
Teacher tells kids there is no Santa.

John Nova Lomax

A few days ago, a five-year-old girl came home from Austin's Pease Elementary School with a question for her dad.

"Daddy," she asked her father, "is Santa real?"

Dad said yes, and wanted to know why his daughter asked.

"Because Mrs. Fuller" — the girl's afterschool teacher — "said he wasn't real. She said, 'None of you believe in Santa, do you?' and said that you and Mommy buy all our presents and put them under the tree. She said that you should tell us the truth."

The girl's mother said the whole family was taken off guard. Her daughter had previously attended a Waldorf school, where belief in fairies and other supernatural beings was nurtured.

Not so at her new school, where the teacher reportedly has a partner-in-grinchiness. The mother said another parent told her that a second teacher assigned her students to draw two pictures on a piece of paper: one of something real and the other of something imaginary. When the student started drawing Santa on the "real" side of the page, the teacher said Saint Nick belonged on the fake side.

The mother says that spoiling Santa is most decidedly not the school's place.

"To break that harsh reality to them in such a brutal way is just wrong," the mom says. "Especially since these kids are five. She is just really getting into Santa."

Or as the mom put it on her Facebook page: "Another adult has no right to submit their own beliefs on a group of 5 year olds and their families — about Santa, God, politics or whatever — especially phrased 'your belief is not right.'" She says another parent spoke for many when he said in an e-mail that circulated among them that it was vital for kids to make those kinds of discoveries on their own, as they matured.

The mom e-mailed a complaint to the principal, who told her that she has reprimanded the teacher and given her the "tools to deal with this situation" in the future. The mom says that the principal was "horrified" by what the teachers had done and adds that Pease is ordinarily a wonderful school, one that she is satisfied with in every way but this instance. (The mom likes that unlike so many schools in the capital, this one, located in the middle of town, has an ethnic mix of roughly one-third each of Anglos, Hispanics and African-Americans.)

The girl's parents have been doing some damage control of their own. Over the weekend, Mom placed a Polar Express-like antique bell under the tree in the hope that the girl could draw her own conclusions, and later she told her daughter that she was free to choose to believe whatever she wanted about Santa Claus.

"I want to believe in Santa," the girl replied.
_____________________

SCENE/STIR YOUR NIGHTLIFE

SELLING HUMANS
A charity event promises only the best of the best. BY JEFF BALKE

"What do a neuroscientist, a chocolatier and a private flight attendant have in common?" asks a release from CultureMap. I know there's a punch line in there somewhere, but in this case, the line isn't a joke but a teaser for CultureMap's charity event, where attendees, for $35, can bid on a "'mini' dream date" with one of Houston's allegedly most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.

I am totally down with charity and the sale of humans for the purposes of it, but what struck me when reading over the press release information was just how far they seemed to want you to follow them when believing the dating pool in Houston is second to none and all the good ones will be auctioned off at their party.

I'm not saying these folks won't be wonderful people. It would not surprise me that there are 50 perfectly attractive, lovely, available people in Houston willing to offer themselves up at auction for charity, but maybe a couple fewer adjectives next time lest your bidders seek a refund because the guy they purchased is bright, driven, fun-loving, talented, captivating and accomplished, but falls short of spectacular.

"CultureMap's Most Eligible Series will culminate in an opportunity for you to experience the hippest, sexiest, most anticipated party of the year."

Hippest, sexiest and most anticipated? Looks like someone has been reading books on how to write PR for nightclub openings in New York City. And sexiest? Really?

Is it a French accent that gets you going, or a man who works with his hands? Does the rugged football player body catch your eye, or are you more attracted to a guy who can fly?"

So the list includes someone from France, a day laborer, a tackling dummy and Superman? I guess if you have the Man of Steel in the auction, I take back everything I said before because he really is bright, driven, fun-loving, talented, captivating, accomplished and, obviously, spectacular. But he might be taken. He did, after all, spin the world backward just to save Lois Lane.

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