This tradition definitely doesn’t include all Texans, but for those parents with a little spending money and a distorted view of reality when it comes to their children’s social lives, cotillion is the answer. Essentially, these classes force kids to learn outdated social etiquette concepts (e.g., the man must always ask the woman to dance) and how to behave with their friends at a formal party. However, it is a good opportunity for middle schoolers to practice traditional dances.
2. Take me out to the Ballgame.
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Boy or girl, you’ve probably been dragged by your parents to some sort of live sporting event if you grew up in Texas. Even those out in Midland or Odessa have probably made the trip to the Ballpark in Arlington or Texas Memorial Stadium at least once. There’s a reason Friday Night Lights struck such a chord with Texas audiences; football is a way of life around here, and baseball isn’t too far behind.
3. State Fair of Texas.
Going to the fair is mainly for Dallas/Fort Worth residents, but plenty of parents make the effort to take their kids at least once while they’re young. In fact, most schools in the DFW area have a “Fair Day” holiday to boost ticket sales and give students a chance to attend outside of the crowded weekends. Big Tex, the symbol of the fair, burned down a few years ago but he’s been rebuilt as big and Texan as ever.
4. Dressing up like a cowboy, cowgirl for family photos.
There are people who grow up in ranches out in the hill country who actually do wear big belt buckles, cowboy hats, and bolo ties for social gatherings. Though most Texans might have a pair of boots or flannel shirt to throw on when they feel like living up to the stereotype, quite a few of us have been stuffed into the Hollywood version of a cowboy for childhood photos in a professional studio.
5. Road trip for the holidays.
Everything seems more wholesome when you’re a kid growing up in a big crazy world, and experiencing it as a Texan is no different. There was a time when my father could pick me up at 6 AM, lay me in the back seat of the car, and be several hours into a road trip before I woke up in the middle of east Texas. Going to see families over the holidays usually involves a few touristy stops to see the restaurant shaped like a ship from Star Trek from I-35 or other pieces of Americana (Texasana?).
6. Not shoveling snow.
People in the neighborhoods of Boston grow up understanding that when a major storm passes through, it’s on everyone to do their part to shovel snow off the sidewalk in front of their house and not bury someone else’s car (unless they were wicked rude to you earlier). Growing up in Texas gives kids no such skills or sense of responsibility. The only equivalent may be gathering leaves, and being considerate enough not to blow them into your neighbor’s yard.
7. Acting in the Texas Play.
Every school has one. It could be about the discovery of oil out west, dancing with the Buffalo Gals, or bits of folklore that make for some fine entertainment for parents wanting to see their offspring representing Texas.
8. Knowing how to order your meat.
I liked my burgers and steaks well done until I learned some sense, and the reaction from my father every time I ordered them this way is something I’ll never forget: hysteria with a scoff of disbelief. I don’t know many children who are raised vegetarian in a dairy state like Texas, but those that aren’t pick up pretty quickly that this is cattle country, and you best cook your meat like you mean to eat it.
9. Riding a horse.
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Sadly, the stereotype usually holds true in Texans’ childhood. Whereas only posh northerners in the big cities are able to escape and go English riding on the weekends, Texans have the space to indoctrinate all their children into riding with a western saddle at some point: summer camp, riding school in the middle of town, or even just visiting a distant cousin who owns a ranch. It’s all worth it, though, because non-Texans will be asking us for the rest of our lives if we can ride.