Whatever happened to respecting your elders?

Since I have had kids of my own, I have concluded that if a kid is stupid enough to pick a fight with an adult, then that level of stupidity is going to haunt him for the rest of his life.

One day I took two of my kids, Finn and Colette, to a popular playground close to our home. Colette was pulled in our wagon while Finn walked with me. As usual, I parked the wagon at the willow tree on top of the hill.

A half-hour later, Finn was playing at the top of a big hill with a group of new friends, while I pushed Colette on the swing at the bottom. Mid push, I noticed two boys shooting down one of the smaller hills in a wagon.

It was my wagon.

(I noticed these kids when we first got to the park. These weren’t kids fresh out of their local 4H chapter looking to blow off some steam. They were looking for trouble.)

I was yelling at them before I even realized what I was doing. It was weird because I’m not the type to yell if I don’t have to. Regardless, it didn't help because I looked like the bigger jerk – a grown man yelling at the top of my lungs at two snot-nosed little so-and-so’s who were 100 feet away from me.

They retreated up the hill and disappeared before I was done yelling. Insult was added to injury when they doubled back to taunt me. This didn’t last very long when they realized I was walking toward them.

Suffice it to say, our trip to the park ended shortly after that encounter.

A week later, I decided to take all of my kids to a less populated park that was also close to our home.

We were all having good, harmless fun until my oldest, Zoe, recognized a classmate of hers and the classmate’s brother. They came over to us while we were playing in the sandbox.

They were the rudest kids imaginable.

Name calling, bragging, ruining things that Zoe had made in the sandbox, ruining things that I had made in the sandbox with the two younger kids . . . These kids were lucky that there were just enough witnesses around us.

I told my kids it was time to go home. As we were walking away, the classmate’s brother called me a name. I didn’t hear what it was. But my eldest did and was expecting a retort from me.  I explained that some people just aren't worth your time.

There could be any number of reasons why kids today would behave this way. It could be the environment. It could be abusive parenting. It could also be that these were two isolated incidents.

The fact of the matter remains: Children need boundaries. They need rules. They need to know what is expected of them. They need to know that regardless of their behavior, they have a home—some place safe that they can call theirs.

Without those minimal needs, how on earth will the children of today become the adults of tomorrow? 

Matthew MacDonald

Matthew MacDonald is a freelance writer living in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 5, Issue 3, Posted 1:10 PM, 02.21.2012