11 year olds punch their sweet grannies when you have a society that kowtows to kids. Kids do what adults let them, so here’s a quick rant about adults these days. In the news a while back, an eleven year old punched his grandmother after she refused to buy him a toy he wanted. I have a similar tale that occurred during a recent high school basketball game. Now, granted it’s not a direct connection, nor is it as bad, but it is indicative of causation. It’s connected. It’s also connected to church potluck dinners when kid get to go first in line, before the elderly, before the middle aged who paid for the meal the kids are about to eat, before the church ladies who prepared the food and set it out for the kids to eat, and who will clean up the messes the kids make of their meals.
The game I bring up was between two rival small schools. Typical evening fare in the winter. Entertaining on the court, with young men battling it out, and old men up in the stands yelling encouragement to the young men, and insults to the referees. I was a passive observer, as I often am.
It had been a strange game. One boy had gotten some teeth broken on a dive-onto-the-floor play. Another player had thrown a hard pass to no one in particular, and the errant pass had gone into the stands and hit a woman square in the face. Tempers were hot. Small town rivalry.
It happened in the fourth quarter, this little incident of note, this little microcosm of one thing that is very wrong with our society. One of the visiting team players had been called for a foul, and after the referee called the foul, the player started mouthing off to the ref. The ref could not see the number of the player in order to notify the score table of the foul, so he told the boy to stand still. The player kept walking, defiant. The ref stepped forward to try and read the player’s number, still requesting him to stand still. Yet, the player walked. Finally, the ref grabbed the boy’s arm to keep him still long enough so he could read the number. That was it. That’s all the ref did.
I was sitting next to the boy’s father in the stands. My first reaction was to lean over and whisper, “Congratulations on raising a brat,” but I thought better of it. I figured most sane and normal people would see it that way. Sure, tempers get hot, but there is no call for a kid to mouth off to a ref, or to any adult. However, I soon learned my view on the matter is in the minority. An older gentleman on the other side of the father said, “You can’t put your hands on a kid.” As if it were a law of nature. As if he was stating that what goes up must come down, as if it was one of Newton’s laws. You can’t put your hands on a kid.
I don’t believe that, especially given the situation. Sure, if you’re in a room alone with a kid, maybe the door’s closed, you don’t put your hands on a kid. Of course, if you are in a room alone with a kid and the door is closed, I question your judgment and/or intentions anyway. Or if you’re a Catholic priest. In these cases, you can’t put your hands on a kid. But if you’re in a public place, as a ref at a game, where you are paid to keep order amongst disorder… and said kid is mouthing off to you? I say grab him. If it ‘s my boy mouthing off to you, I say put him in a headlock until he apologizes to you. Then kick him out of the game. I’d rather have that than have my boy grow up to be a man who thinks its okay to mouth off to an adult. What happened to respect for elders?
The next day, I overheard the superintendent of the school telling someone the same thing. “You can’t put your hands on a kid.” Really? He continued, “I don’t care what the kid’s doing. Unless he’s about to hurt someone else, or himself, you can not put your hands on a kid.” Then he went on to say that the school was sending a tape of the incident to the state governing body of sports, just so the school’s collective rear end was covered, I guess.
That’s how I know we are one step closer to the barbarians overthrowing the gates. We are raising up barbarians inside the gates. The enemy is within and it is us. We are training up warriors by allowing them to use us as targets. Perhaps we should have sung praises to the kid mouthing off to the ref. Perhaps we should have forced the ref to apologize to the kid. We could have stopped the game and built a shrine right there on the gym floor, and placed a plaque upon it reading, “To all children everywhere who defy authority, we salute you.”
I say kids don’t mouth of to refs. I say kids go last in line at the potluck dinners, after those who raised them and especially after those who raised the ones who raised them. Perhaps I have a little Japanese in me, or whoever it is who still respects the elderly. Perhaps I was just raised better. I well remember getting reprimanded as a boy by my father for calling an adult by his first name. Of course, I was raised in the South. I cannot imagine the horror had I mouthed off to a referee.
Why do we vaunt youth so? If we are not raising barbarians, they are surely at the gates already. Read the news. They are climbing the walls. We need our youth to protect us from the apocalypse, not further our own demise.
If you want more 11-year kids with sideways hats, saggy pants, and tattoos on their necks and faces, refuse to correct them. Refuse to swat them when they’re little. Continue to let them line up first at church potlucks. Insist upon their rights to mouth off to refs. Let them run the place. Years from now, just remember ol’ John Wilson warning you. Those same little twits will be paying your Social Security and staffing your nursing homes. Will they respect you then?