Children, Discipline, And Beatings For The Worthy

I went to see the movie March Of The Penguins at the Fox Theatre this past weekend. The film was excellent. Simply superb. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Something else I can't recommend highly enough: seeing the film as late in the day as you possibly can.

It was showing on two screens at the Fox, running about forty minutes apart. We went to get tickets to the 4:40 show - but it sold out. "OK then, the 5:20 it is..." which meant that even after a time-killing stroll around town, we were still the first to sit down for that show.

Slowly but surely, people filed into the theatre until most of the seats were taken, leaving only the seats at the very front of the theatre.

It's a documentary, so the crowd was what you'd expect: 40 year old male, 25 year old female, 30 year old female, 25 year old male... dot dot dot...

But then, right as the previews began... in came the kids. A grandmother brought a few, some poor shlub of a dad brought a few too, and they all sat in the only remaining seats at the very front of the theatre.

I can honestly say there was never more than a two minute stretch during the entire film when they all shut the fuck up... which brings me to the point of this post.

I don't believe in ever raising a hand to strike a child.

I think it's wrong.
But I'm all for beating the holy hell out of a piss-poor parent.

Unless there's something biologically wrong with your kid, a bad child is the product of bad parenting. Instead of hitting your child, you should bash your own head in a door, because it's your fault. Your kid won't shut up in a movie because you haven't taught your kid how to behave in public. My parents taught me how to behave in public. I was quiet in quiet places.

Loud in the park... Tra-LA-La-la!!!
Quiet and respectful in a restaurant.
...It ain't rocket science.

My parents also rewarded me for good behavior. It wasn't a specific "hey, you were good today, here's a bribe" sort of thing. No. We'd get taken out for ice cream every now and then for no reason other than because we were good kids.

And when we were bad... there was nothing worse than disappointing my father. Nothing felt worse than his disappointment. Whatever I did wrong, I sure as hell wasn't going to do it again. It wasn't that I was afraid of him. It was that he was my dad, and he laid down the law. If he said "Stop it!" Well holy cow! I stopped it - there and then.

What's the deal with parents today?

What's with this whole trend of asking little Jimmy to follow instructions?

"Jimmy, please don't pull the dog's tail."
"Jimmy, can you get down off that ledge?"
"Jimmy, I'd really prefer it if you didn't stick your hand down the garbage disposal while it's running."

Here's a news flash: Jimmy knows damn well he can do what he wants. And he knows how many times you will ask him not to do something before you actually mean it. I asked him. According to Jimmy, the magic number is eight.


That was only seven. He can keep running out into the street and playing in traffic until you ask him to stop once more. And he knows it.

Kids aren't stupid, but parents sure are.

Grandparents can be the worst. Did I mention that during the movie, the grandmother was talking almost as much as the kids?

Well that grandmother was nothing compared to the master-guardian I came across this afternoon.

I was out running an errand and decided to take a stroll towards NW 23'rd. I was walking along Burnside Avenue - one of the busiest streets in downtown Portland. Burnside has narrow sidewalks that leave pedestrians little distance between the businesses on one side and fast moving traffic on the other. It was after 5. The afternoon rush was in full force.

I'm a fast walker. I was zipping along fine and dandy until I came to nearly a standstill thanks to Geriatric Gina and her two grandkids.

They came walking out of Goodwill on 22nd, with each of the two kids bouncing a soccer-ball sized rubber ball. They turned right in front of me before I had the chance to pass, and headed along the sidewalk towards 23rd, still bouncing their balls.


Traffic was flying by mere inches from these kids. And since the sidewalk is so narrow, one of the kids kept walking on the outside of street signs and such, putting himself even closer to the cars driving by... all the while, still bouncing his ball.


And then it happened.

One of the kids' balls hit the curb and bounced out into the busy street. I felt my body want to lunge... it was a reflex. I knew what the kid was going to do, but I was too far away to stop it.

The kid didn't even look to see if cars were coming. He jumped out onto the street to catch his ball.

There was an awful sound of tires. It wasn't loud, but it was enough to make my heart sink in an instant. Shocked, I cringed and spun around to see some of the craziest of luck for the kid who - just thirty seconds ago - would have been killed.

There was only one car coming thanks to the fact that the light had just turned red a few blocks away. The car swerved, entering a lane of oncoming traffic... but, somehow, in the middle of the afternoon rush, the lane was clear long enough for the car to avoid the ball chasing kid and then swerve back into its side of the road with another round of screeching tires.

The kid didn't even notice. He caught his ball as it smacked into the second lane of the four. He then trotted victoriously back to the sidewalk, where he began bouncing the ball again.


Not one peep from the grandmother. She never said a word.

::::: | Wednesday, Aug 17 2005 at 12:00 AM
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Mari said:

Reasons #456,982 and #456,983 that Mari Will Not Have Children.

Sad thing is, Doug and I know that if we did have kids we'd be better parents than most simply because we wouldn't want our kids to be the kids we hate to see in public... But, that isn't enough of a reason for us to have any...

::::: | August 17, 2005 10:23 AM

Gretchen said:

Wasn�t the Penguin movie amazing? One can only hope that dimwit parents pick up a clue or two from those black and white wonders.

I can't count how many times I have had to restrain myself from confronting these types of parents. The usual scenarios?

- Enjoying some outdoor activity when Dumbass Dan comes along with his rowdy kids and he loudly threatens to beat them if they don�t start behaving. Sometimes he makes good on his promise to the dismay of everyone else at the park.

- Shopping at the store and having my senses jarred by the high pitched wails of Annoying Anna who can usually be found standing right next to her indifferent mother. Listen lady, NO ONE wants to hear your brat scream for an hour while you decide on the just the right brand of moisturizer. You have learned to tune it out, but we haven't.

- Dining in a restaurant and Jumping Johnny comes running by my table, bumping into my chair, and carrying some toy race car. His parents are nowhere in sight. Jumping Johnny is never satisfied with one lap around the restaurant. He must make at least 10.

Maybe there should be a wilderness survival/outdoor school type camp that irresponsible parents can be sent to for a few weeks (against their will) until they can get it together.

::::: | August 18, 2005 1:43 AM

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