Clue-by-Four: Ramblings of a Jock Dork

Bad Parenting: Why the All Star Game is Not Chuck-E-Cheese

Posted in Clue x Fours and Other Tools of Sanity, Jock Dork: It's Who I Am by Wingnut on July 20, 2010

I don’t generally think of myself as a superior parent [Believing you are usually means you aren’t]. But in certain situations, like All-Star Weekend, it is hard not to look at some parents and their children with a quizzical, WTF look. Events like this can bring out the worst in some kids and their parents1 [Though they can also bring out some of the best of us as well2].

Remember moms and dads, kids are a reflection of you and how you raised them. Thus, the way they interact and treat others in public will give us a better indication of who you are and the lessons you have taught them. If your kids suck, you suck.

Now, before some of you get flustered because you struggle and don’t want to suck, please note the following: Not all misbehavior falls in the “suck” category. I will be addressing specific behaviors that most of your children do not exhibit. And trust me, these behaviors suck and are taught by bad parenting!

Captain Spikes, featuring Gone Drinking Dad

This young man’s parents skipped a lesson on sharing, possibly the whole unit. Spikes had been on the railing since the beginning of All-Star batting practice and had already netted himself a ball with the unique HR Derby stamp when it was thrown into the crowd by one of the players.  

I imagined what it must have felt like; I would have given anything for a ball at the 1989 All-Star game when I went with my dad. I would have been the happiest kid in the world. Today, I was hoping that my daughters would get a chance to take such a treasured prize home, one that even I never got.

Spikes, on the other hand, was clearly not satisfied with his prize. He began shouting to the players to throw him the next one [Using phrases like “Gimmie”] On more than one occasion, other children and parents pointed out that he had one. “I don’t care. I want another one!” he said with clear attitude.

After about thirty minutes, Spikes resorted to a new tactic. Below us, Andy Pettite [NY Yankee] was shagging balls with his three sons. The youngest, who just turned five in June [thank you again Wikipedia], was playing catch with another of the Pettite boys.

Spikes began shouting at the boy to throw him the ball. That’s right, Spikes was trying to trick a five-year-old to give up the ball he was using to play catch with his brother. Thankfully, the junior Pettite would have nothing to do with it and was busy playing catch [It was cute. He would occasionally look up at the throng of kids, then turn and throw it to his brother]3.

And, you might be asking, “Where was this kid’s father?” Ahhhh. Yes. You will not be shocked when I tell you that that dad was seen leaving earlier, beer in hand, to go drink with friends. Should we then be shocked, then, by Spikes’ selfish behavior?

Yes, I’m a selfish prick. I freely admit it. But there is a time to turn of the “you” off for a few moments and consider other people. An All-Star Game is an opportunity for bonding with your children, not sending them to roam free like Chuck E Cheese’s. You are supposed to share in the experience, not use the ushers and peanut sellers as babysitters. At the ASG with your kids, you check your “you” at the turnstile.

Tangent: The Same Problem from a Few Miles Away

I’ve seen this lost opportunity in other places too, like the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California. Part of my love of learning new things and ideas came from all of those summer camp field trips to the Museum of Science and Industry [now called the California Science Center]. The DSC is a great opportunity for parents to show their children a variety of experiments and help them understand cool concepts in science.

It’s a chance to open their minds to something a little more sustainable than Spongebob. Yet many parents ignore this, hence the herds of children running around the two-story complex, mucking up the experiments and, on occasion, breaking something.

I remember the last time I took the girls. One of the things I was excited to show and explain to them, now that both were old enough to understand, was the tornado machine4. Using a fog machine and turbine for suction, the exhibit creates a fog tornado that you can stick your hand in, even walk through. It’s neat because you disrupt the air flow and watch as the vortex reforms.5

Today, the vortex wasn’t forming because streams of parentless children were walking through it or jumping up-and-down over the fog release valve. I spent a few minutes clearing kids from the exhibit to let the vortex reset and actually do what its supposed to. [I got a lot of dirty looks for this].

Just as things started to happen, two new kids came up and interrupted the process.

Shortly afterward, their parent showed up and looked at the exhibit. “Let’s go. This obviously isn’t working,” she said to her spawn. Me = #FACEPALM [This parent was clearly absent for the Science and Industry field trips…and from basic science classes…6].

This scene was repeated all over the DSC. It was sad really to have to fight the unruly hordes to educate your children just a little bit.

The Whiner: Parents Also Not Included

Right next to Spikes was another kid who was also eager to get a ball. To his credit, he had yet to catch one and I had no qualms with his desire. What I did take issue with is the way he expressed that desire, constantly…every five seconds…to any player within earshot. “I’ve never gotten a ball in my life!” he cried loudly.

If this happened intermittently, it would have been tolerable. But imagine hearing it over and over again for the next forty-five minutes to an hour, or so [add extreme emphasis to both “ball” and “life”]. 7

Again, I had to wonder. What lessons his parents have taught him about patience. Did they constantly give in when he was a toddler? Did they ever set limits? Do they now? I couldn’t tell because neither mom nor dad came to even check on him during the time we were there. I can only imagine how much this kid whines at home before he gets what he wants.

In Contrast: Quality Parenting and Paying It Forward

There was a father-son combo to our left that demonstrated everything this experience should be. There was no whining. His son stood at the rail patiently and stuck his glove out diligently. He looked to his dad for support or advice. His father did a lot of pointing and explaining. They were sharing the experience.

There was also no greed. Thanks to dad’s extended reach, the child already had the coveted Home Run Derby logo ball from BP. Still, they were on the rail trying to catch balls more balls. However, they were doing so to share with other people’s children. [Foreign concept, I know] For the rest of their time on the rail, dad was not only bonding with his son, but teaching him a valuable life lesson about how to interact with others. Too bad Spikes’ dad was off swilling beer and The Whiner’s dad was nowhere to be found. They missed teachable moments.

When my youngest needed to use the restroom, I was afraid of losing our spot because the school of ill-behaved piranha [both children and bad grown ups8] would immediately fill the spot and prevent my oldest from both holding our spot and catching a ball. But, I had faith in the other dad and asked him if he could help while I took my youngest.

He one-upped his promise.

While we were gone, he caught a ball that was thrown up by the oldest of the Pettite kids. Good dad then gave it to my daughter. I thanked him profusely for his kindness.

It was my turn to use a teachable moment. Trophy secure in our bag, my daughters and gave our spot at the railing for a new set of kids/parents to have their chance to take home some special memories. I asked my girls, “Do you know why we are leaving?” Both nodded their heads. Each answered that we were sharing with others because we had what we came for. [Beforehand, I explained that if we only got one ball, it was a “family” trophy. I’m glad I did because my youngest didn’t complain that she hadn’t caught it. She was just happy we got one and wanted to hold it]

I was beaming with pride. They understood the lesson. They appreciated the moment. [Which, for a selfish prick like me, was a learned behavior].

That sharing was taken one step further during our walk around the field. We stopped again in the gift shop because my oldest had an idea. She wanted to get the Boston Red Sox Mickey for her cousin who just graduated from high school [Yes, I know. I was paying actual money for Red Sox memorabilia…it still burns]. Once in the store, they also wanted to get small All-Star bat/ball sets for the two sons of family friends that they visit frequently (Ages five and two).

I hadn’t intended to buy them any more souvenirs with what I had spent the day before. However, I rewarded them for their big hearts and generosity with an ASG shirt of their choice.

Daddy was proud of their “giving” spirit.    

Post-Game Wrap Up

Please don’t think I’m saying I have perfect children. They are far from it. They still have bouts of sister jealousy, attitude, and yes, they at times also display their daddy’s penchant for selfishness [Mommy has been a great contributor to this as well]. But, at the core, they are also good kids and I understand my role in raising them. I know my role in sharing these positive experiences with them because of my dad shared them with me. He didn’t miss those teachable moments.

In 1989, thanks to my dad’s professional relationship with Angles PR man Tim Mead [later General Manager], we had tickets along the third-base line toward the outfield for the ASG at Anaheim Stadium. Because there were four tickets, he gave two up for free at work. You know how those friends repaid my dad for his generosity? One of them knew I idolized Don Mattingly and arrived at the seats with a special Yankees hat they had for sale at the game…the special Mattingly signature hat.

My dad showed generosity and that generosity was extended to me.

I hope my girls will remember our trips to the Home Run Derby, Celebrity Softball Game and 2009 ALCS9 with the fondness that I remember those trips with my dad. I hope they also remember much from these teachable moments and strive to pass them along someday.

Next up for daddy and the girls at the stadium, front row tickets to an upcoming Angels game near the Angels dugout. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow: The Flipside. A story of another person’s absolute selfishness about the ASG and how it helped someone else’s marriage.

Footnotes:

  1. For the Dodgers fan, it means getting drunk and kicked out of the stadium for fighting.
  2. Not sure if there is a “best” for Dodgers fans…or Red Sox fans for that matter. The rest of you don’t suck…you just root for the wrong team.
  3. The kid had an arm too. Much better than Johnny Damon [ex-Yankee]
  4. I am, very much, a weather nerd. Not only do I check this website daily [ http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ ], I also understand a lot of the content. [And yes, I’m showing off]
  5. Yes, I used “neat”. I’m an English teacher. It is my birthright [No such thing exists]
  6. And when they were passing out the instruction manual detailing how not to be a complete idiot
  7. BTW, state of California: “I’ve never won the lottery jackpot in my LIFE!”
  8. Did I mention that Dodgers fans were now hovering? [To my knowledge, being drunk already comes standard on all models of Dodgers fans]
  9. It was one time I could allow for the Angels to beat the Yankees. My girls were both very excited and loved winning in such an important game [Besides, I knew Andy Pettite was pitching game six and he is super clutch in the postseason]
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2 Responses

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  1. Lisa said, on July 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Excellent post. Our children are part of the iGeneration… “everything for me, now now now”. I’m not the most patient parent/person in the world, but I’ll be damned if I let my kids grow up that way.

  2. Solo @ 30 said, on July 28, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Such a great post. You brought up so many of the criticisms I have of the “modern parent”. As a fellow teacher, I get to see them from other angles as well, and it frustrates me how so many parents don’t take the time to bond with their kids, share teachable moments, and be positive examples.


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