In Defense of Starting an Argument in Public for Humanity's Greater Good
A few days ago, I took my kids to one of those places with giant inflatable slides that sane people avoid. My best friend was in town for her once-a-year visit home and in order to show the kids a "good time" took them to inflatable kid heaven, otherwise known as the Jump Zone.
It's always a mistake, with the noise level and the creeping panic attacks ("Is my kid ever going to come out of there and if not, will I fit because I didn't squeeze into my Spanx today?") This time was no exception. I had a truth-moment that will be forever etched on my soul that announced over the loudspeaker in my brain, "Society is doomed. Most people are idiots." My father says he came to this conclusion many years ago and there's no big news in it. I always held out hope that the majority of the idiots were the ones who landed on the news for tattooing their ex with depictions of excrement or on the Maury Povich show with a 200 pound eight-year-old. Most people, I thought, are your neighbors who are sane, decent folks. Not so! It turns out the world is littered with mopes and I have proof.
The Jump Zone is a terrible place to go if you want to catch up with a girlfriend. First of all, the noise level is deafening, but more importantly, the children roam free to create destruction like crazed Cornish Pixies and if you don't keep up with them they could bloody a nose or worse, walk out the door never to be seen again. (Don't get me started on the lack of proper caging structures.) Because of these dangers, my girlfriend and I exchanged about twenty words in an hour which all started with, "Did you see...?" or "Where is...?" And so we followed and searched and scolded and directed and assisted the way one must as a mother. Or I should say, should.
There were many other mothers there that day but oddly enough, they weren't doing any of the things we were. In fact, they were happily parked on benches yapping with each other like they were at Starbucks with a nanny at home. In the meantime, their children were terrorizing ours in ways that would have gotten them arrested if they were a few years older. My girlfriend's three-year-old made it all the way to the top of a very precarious perch just to have some overanxious boy shove her off. She fell about 10 feet to the inflated surface below, unharmed but scared and screaming. The boy, about 6, never even looked back, his mother an invisible mystery. No adult came forward to claim the vicious little brat or to reprimand him and demand an apology for this anti-social behavior. My 5-year-old made a beeline for him and told him off in her babyish way. "That wasn't nice!" she said in her best Mommy voice. He shoved past her and went on with his reign of terror.
Two minutes later, my 2-year-old was happily standing on top of a plastic baby slide just watching the chaos in front of her when another little boy, old enough to know better (7?), came charging up to the slide, grabbed the whole thing, and started rocking it and tipping it over. Something snapped inside my brain as I watched my baby's face shrink in terror as this monster tried to topple her tower with her in it. I was on him in less than four seconds. I dug my fingers into his ribs and shouted at him, "NO!" in the exact same voice I reserve for the dog when he's got my shoes.
He dropped the playset and turned to me, shocked, and I continued to scold him uncaring of who was watching. I'm not sure what I said, something about manners and ending up in jail, but I hope he'll remember it the next time he tries to harm a baby. I looked up, expecting to face his either sheepish or angry parent and to my surprise, no one came. He disappeared into the melee and that was that.
These are only two of the episodes that occurred in that hour. Other, equally disturbing acts of torment continued for our time there, and in no instance did any parent but my friend or me intervene. This parenting trend to outright ignore one's children is puzzling but everywhere. I'm no Parent of the Year here. I mean -- I ignore my kids plenty when we're at home and they're safe and I have stuff to do. But to take them out somewhere were they could hurt themselves or others and ignore them is an outrage. But I have a solution that I've decided can reverse this problem, but it will require your help: We're going to engage in verbal fisticuffs.
The current wisdom says don't make a fuss because you never know who has a gun or a knife or who's crazy and will cut you. It's always a possibility. But have we become so scared by the minute possibility of a random act of violence that we will just watch society degenerate into a place where chaos reigns because parents can't take responsibility? This is the kind of environment, the Lord-of-the-Flies syndrome, that creates more thugs. Unchecked childish violence becomes unrestrained adult carnage and all of us will pay for it one day. I say, no more! I will not be silent when I witness juveniles acting badly in public. Instead of saying something just to them, the way I did with the little bulldozer boy, I will also seek out their mom or dad, take the offender to them, and make my case for that parent to do his or her job better. Sounds dangerous, doesn't it? What can I say? I like to live on the edge.
The point is, we all live here. The world is like a big house. There are rules of the house and if the sheriff isn't doing his job, I'm appointing myself deputy. It's time to step up if you want to save America. We have a nation full of takers out there. Takers who would trample their neighbor for a $3 waffle iron, and it's embarrassing. It's embarrassing that a mother should have to be told to watch her child. Maybe embarrassment needs to make a come-back.
My dad is a living example of this kind of public behavior policing.
This is not a man you want to cross. Besides being six-feet tall with fists like hams, he has no fear and a code. You do not break the code (and if you do he'll let you know). We were dining out one night at a casual place and were unfortunately seated next to a teenaged boy on a date.
The adolescent thoroughly enjoyed using all kinds of salty language very loudly and continuously while surrounded by young families with always-watching little ones absorbing every curse. The dining area was unusually quiet as everyone around Sir Swears-A-Lot sat frozen in dismay, unsure of what to do. My dad heard the F-word one too many times for his liking and stood up. We knew what was coming. He walked over to the boy, put his hands on the table in front of him and leaned down into his face and growled something like this:
Son, if I hear one more foul word out of your mouth I'm coming back over here and it won't be to talk. You shut your filthy mouth, show some respect to this young lady you're with and everyone else in here, understand?
Then he sat back down and continued to eat. You could feel the relief from the other diners that someone had finally said something and predictably, the boy didn't utter another sound for the rest of his meal. One brave man rescued a room full of people from an unpleasant dining experience.
My sister is scary too. She's not big or intimidating; in fact, she barely weighs 110 lbs but like my father, she has no fear. She has told me on more than one occasion that the reason she has courage is because she does not fear death. Never have I met a person with more courage than Deirdre.
A few years ago she was in downtown Chicago at Navy Pier enjoying the sights with family. They were standing in line for famous Chicago kettle corn alongside other families with young children. At the end of the line two young punks started harassing the crowd. One was trying to hustle shoe shines while the other intimidated those who said no. To one woman who refused, the thug said, "Don't matter if you hold that purse, lady. I can take it from you."
As the punks made their way up the line, Deirdre heard one of them start in on a father who was holding a toddler on his shoulders. The dad was frozen with fear. What could he do while holding his baby? Deirdre had reached her limit. She wheeled around, walked within inches of one of the offenders, and slapped him directly across the face. (I know! Assault! I don't recommend this, but it works for her.)
The punk was shocked, to say the least. He backed up and said, "Hey! Why'd you hit me?"
And she said, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself! What would your mother say if she saw you harassing women and children like this? You march yourself back to those people and apologize and then get out of here right now!" Unbelievably, he did exactly that. Once she scared a burglar away in the exact same way as he was standing over her bed in the dead of night. Another time, she scared the heck out of a suitor of a roommate who failed to properly announce himself in their college dorm. The message is clear around my sister. Tread thoughtfully.
These stories are entertaining and fun to hear but they are important too. We live with a very thin veil between order and chaos. Has it ever occurred to you that it might be your responsibility to push back against the madness? Popular theory says you can save the world through recycling, but what will it matter if the world falls into the hands of bullies and pigs?
We fear that the worst will happen if we say something about someone's bad behavior -- and that's always a possibility -- but probability lies on the side of the idiot backing down. When a bully faces no opposition, the bullying only gets worse. It takes a brave soul to stand up, draw the line in the sand, and declare "No further!" It's the reason the Iron Curtain tore and the Berlin Wall crumbled. It's the medicine for the national crisis we are in both financially and morally and it starts at home in your community. Personal responsibility, a phrase conservatives have been hawking for years, along with courage is the remedy for all of it.
The American people (mostly conservatives) began standing up to their representatives at town-hall meetings a few years ago and started demanding their government stop spending money it doesn't have. Their involvement sparked a movement that changed the face of local governments across this nation.
The fight for the moral compass of this country is on and it won't be won without push-back. The OWS protests are the antithesis of personal responsibility. They are the ones whose parents abdicated their responsibility and allowed them to cut in line and push babies down on the playground. They are the ones who feel entitled to have the first turn, your toys, free college courses in queer studies, or anything else they want simply because they weren't properly socialized. (And yet they consider themselves "socialists" or something. )
Chances are they went to public school where, I am informed, all children go to get "socialized." I was in a room full of publicly socialized children at the Jump Zone and if that's as good as it gets I'll pass and continue my home-socialization experiment. (I home-school.) After all, my kids aren't the ones knocking over babies and cutting in line.
The continued prosperity of this nation will depend, as it always has, on its people and their moral character. A nation such as this cannot be sustained by a bunch of whining me-firsters who have never seen a day of hard work in their lives and never felt the sting of a paddle on their backsides when they needed it. (For you non-spankers out there, whatever works, but believe me when I tell you there are certain kids that, if denied spanking in childhood, will get spanked by life and it will hurt a lot more than a swat on the tush now.)
Realistically, you can't administer a spanking to a kid who's not yours, but you can verbally discipline anyone from young to old anywhere you encounter nonsense. This is a tactic we need to embrace as conservatives. We should try to spread it like the Gospel and do it in public where it is most needed. Conservative values raise decent human beings. We believe in hard work, taking turns, respect, rewarding good behavior, economic freedom, and all other manner of worthwhile morals that are sorely lacking in today's youth. Permissive progressive parenting leads to lazy, incompetent grabbers who squat on private property and get arrested for masturbating on passersby because they don't want to pay for their student loans.
This kind of parenting creates non-Americans. It strips the American spirit right out of American children by denying them the chance to understand what it is we do here and who we are. We are good people, we are giving people, we care for each other and that's why we need to stand up and refuse to allow coming generations to become looting parasites. They need someone to call them on their idiocy and that someone is you.