Morning, all. *takes a sip* As I sit here with Squishy (the baby) snuggled against my side and the Wife taking the other two to school, I can’t help but be in a constant state of concern. Most every parent would easily lay their lives down for their children (and some have made that ultimate sacrifice). I often truly wonder what goes through a person’s mind when they decide to hurt a child. I assume you know I’m referring to things much more significant than swatting their hand away from a hot stove or grabbing them so quick to avoid them running into a busy parking lot. I mean the unthinkable abuses that we hear; whether it be someone you know, or what we hear on the news. Children’s trust constantly being broken by a family friend, a family member, or a person in a position of authority. I will say this. I was raised Catholic, and honestly I never had an issue with any of the clergy in my churches. Same with scouting. Sadly, this happens all too often as we are now aware. But, instant news aside, did this all happen in many years past and was a blind eye cast instead? I seem to think so. I feel there was a stigma of shame and ostracization that occurred, say, if little Jimmy or little Suzie went to mom and dad (or some other family member) and told them that Scoutmaster Bob, Father Smith, or Aunt Jane (wow, I’m so creative with names, aren’t I?) or whomever had violated them. There was this element of keeping it quiet and dealing with it behind closed doors. Now with voyeuristic fervor at an all-time high in our culture, not only are these long closeted issues out in the open, EVERYTHING is. And I think that’s what I’m really trying to get at. We’re learning that there’s a huge problem with child abuse in all forms all around the US and beyond. In one sense, law enforcement can use the internet and social media as a way of tracking down the scum of the earth that feels it necessary to nearly destroy a child for their own carnal depravity. Yet, in another sense, these very sick twisted individuals can rely on the internet to find such things with more ease than before. So we’ve traded secrecy for openness…but is it backfiring? Just so I’m clear…as a parent who loves his children more than life itself, I would absolutely want to know if someone was hurting my kid. I cannot be with my kids 24 hours a day, but I’m damn sure I’m around them as much as possible, and if someone hurts a hair on their head, well, I’d probably end up in jail myself. To come back from that “noble darkness” that most parents keep locked away until needed, I feel parents really need to focus on their children’s well-being. It’s an incredibly difficult task, having to vet each person (young or old) that their children come into contact with. We cannot possibly possess 100% infallible judgement. But we can come damn close to it. There’s some kids and their parents that I regret allowing my children around in the past (as has every parent, and if they say they’ve never done that, they are liars). Yet, it’s a risky lesson to learn. I don’t encourage people to go “Oh hey, this guy and his family, they’re repeat convicted felons currently awaiting trial and the State is taking the kids away from them; let’s go have a play date so we can learn a lesson!” Please. Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Wise people learn from others’.
Crap, that’s what I was going for. COMMON SENSE. Sad thing is, I heard common sense is on life support these days. As a coach, I can’t even begin to explain how senseless people have gotten over the years. I’m a young dad. Most of the parents out there have 5 – 10 years on me. I learned very quickly this does NOT correlate to having more common sense or actually learning from experience. Case in point (professional): Years ago in the construction field, I, a young inexperienced construction equipment rep, had to explain to a mid-career construction manager (with over 10 years in the industry) on a MAJOR heavy civil works project that the 190,000 lb construction machine they were going to use on a particular type of work would absolutely CRUSH the pieces of spiral steel corrugated pipe that was no thicker than a soda can. He couldn’t fathom why or how the machine would do that. When I went back to my boss (who was very experienced and had survived MANY lessons in the field), he goes “This is why contractors like XXXXX XXXXS scare me. Stupid doesn’t hurt, it kills.” Parents seem to be the same way. Everyone has to be an expert. Everyone knows ALL there is. Yet about 25% of these parents don’t even know which end of the bat to hold (no seriously, I had that happen). This is what scares me. They show ignorance in seemingly minor things (fine, be mad at me, not everyone is a sports parent, I wasn’t even a sports type kid until my sophomore year of high school) so where is their concern with other things? I see parents let their kids out of their line of sight, or just randomly drop them off “oh they’ll be fine, they can call me”. Meanwhile the kid comes up to me “hey Coach Cup’o’Dad (they don’t call me that, haha), mom didn’t give me any water or snack.” or “Hey Coach, I don’t have my cup on.” Meanwhile it’s 86° out, 86% relative humidity, you can chew the air, and they’re on a baseball field with zero shade for 2 hours in full baseball gear. Seriously? Might as well lock them up in a car with the windows rolled up while you’re at it. THIS is why I thank my wife. She keeps a stash of bottled water in the car, in a cooler, plus a few boxes of granola bars and fruit snacks. Every season, it costs me. But, I’d gladly pay for some bottled water and snacks instead of having a kid go down on the field from dehydration. And I bench the boys without cups. They aren’t old enough to choose to have an inadvertent sterilization from a line drive or a missed pitch. All of this worries me. If I knew that these very parents were extra vigilant about other things, yeah, I wouldn’t stress out. But they DON’T. Can you see my morning cup is making me more rabid by the sentence?
I see a correlation. And it’s been around for ages. Complacency. Something happens. Everyone reacts. Call to arms. Turn every leaf, every stone. Write new laws. Then it doesn’t happen again for a while. The incident becomes a memory. Maybe there’s memorials. People occasionally utter “never again”. More time passes. Other things draw attention (o0oo0o0oooo look at what that reality star is wearing). Complacency returns to it’s wrongful place at the helm. The watch over our children should NEVER take a backseat. Ever. Should you be a nervous wreck 24/7? Nope. But you can be an AWARE parent, an INVOLVED parent (without being obtrusive), and an ACTIVE parent. Throwing a GPS tracking cellphone in Jimmy and Suzie’s backpack is great, but the GPS doesn’t parent the child. You do.