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This Versus That

Versus. Always makes me smile when my son or one of his buddies asks who we’re “versing” in tonight’s game. Or who the Cowboys are “versing” this weekend. Sure, it’s not a word, but not every day has to be a grammar exam. Kids just love talking about “versing.”

Of course, so do adults, although adult versing is much more serious and has us basically looking like Wile E. Coyote. We try the same thing over and over and get the same results. And then we try it again.

When more than 85 percent of the country thinks the constant bickering, the constant stupid arguments and the endless political posturing by Republicans and Democrats are completely out of hand, we officially live in a polarized nation.

Blue states vs. Red states. Conservatives vs. Liberals. Tea Partiers vs. MSNBC.  Fox News vs. Anyone Not On Fox News. Texas vs. Anywhere Not Named Texas. Dale Hansen vs. Pete Delkus.

Versus. Everything, it seems, is about versus.

One of the many great things about being a kid is that versus only comes into play when they’re actually playing a game. Kids don’t care about political differences, race relations or who makes what kind of money. They typically only care about who brings the sugary snacks and high-fructose juice boxes.

Versus is the new norm for adults and kids alike. You just can’t escape its clutches. For instance:

Stay-at-Home Moms vs. Working Moms. Perhaps the most heated struggle since the Cold War, these two groups do more backbiting than Marv Albert. Stay-at-Home Moms believe Working Moms are depriving their children of the critical nurturing they need. Working Moms believe Stay-at-Home Moms are lazy, sweatsuit-wearing, latte-drinking bums. Since so many more moms have become the main breadwinner over the last 10 years, this issue is reaching a new level of noise. And it’s a level I want absolutely no part of. When the topic comes up, I’m Switzerland. No upside taking either side, since my wife lives in both worlds, working part-time. I listen intently and just nod my head as if I actually hear what they’re saying. Silence is the only way to go here. Mutually assured destruction I believe they called it before the Berlin Wall came down.

Helicopter Parents vs. Laid-Back Parents. If your kid is running into traffic on a busy highway and you’re inside watching The Real Housewives of Orange County, you’re officially not a Helicopter Parent. If you go to a job interview with your college graduate and ask the boss to sit in so you can help with any difficult questions, you’re officially a Helicopter Parent. Parents who monitor their kids’ every move hold in contempt the parent who seems, well, a bit more laid-back. And vice versa, the so-called Laid-Back Parent thinks the Helicopter Mom or Dad is a bigger beating than David Copperfield or a mime.

Home-School Parents vs. Public-School Parents vs. Private-School Parents. This is a three-way duel to the death. For Public-School Parents, Home-School Parents are nerdy goofballs rearing closet-case kiddos who will never figure out how to fit in when they’re finally released to the real world. Home-School Parents scoff at public schools as advanced baby-sitting with a few movies, a terrible lunch and recess tossed in. Private-School Parents laugh at both as they speed off in their German-engineered SUV to their $8,000-plus private school with small class sizes and Ivy League blueprints. For the record, my kids attend public school because a) I’m cheap; b) home-schooling would result in assault charges; and c) Frisco offers some solid public schooling, although I do think the term “exemplary” is a bit overused. Then again, there are many times I believe my kids would be better off in small classes with more one-on-one teaching. Does that make me a hypocrite?

Of course it does.

That’s what makes versing really fun.

Rudy lives in Flower Mound, works in Fort Worth and plays everywhere in between. He has one wife, one daughter, one son, one published book, one obsession with sports and 20 million observations on marriage and children. Follow him on Twitter: Manifesto10.

Published August 2013