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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Shooter

Pin It I went to the local parade yesterday to commemorate July Fourth (which was celebrated on both the 3rd and 5th – chalk it up to living in a community which heavily endorses Sabbath day observance). As I was watching the floats and carriages, fire engines and ambulances, mayors and dairy queens, I came to the realization that I don’t really enjoy parades.

Sure, parades have been around for about 10,000 years—well, according to archeology. In Spain, caves have been discovered with wall paintings depicting parade-type formations to celebrate the hunt.

Parades must have been important. Really.

In fact, I remember that as a kid I’d loved them. I mean, what kid doesn’t? Free candy given away like…well, candy? However, add twenty years or so into the mix and suddenly parades just aren’t as much fun as they once were.

This year I attended the festival of following, and soon noticed a 15 or so year-old young man sitting with his family group just a short distance away. While many people were throwing Snappers into the roadway, this kid was shooting them much the same as somebody would spitwads.

He shot them at the cars. He shot them at the fire trucks. He shot them at the people in the parade. One teenager he hit on the arm cried out in pain and gripped the spot where the firework had hit. The boy in the mass quickly lowered the projectile shooter and feigned innocence as the teenager on the float scanned the crowd. As the teenager looked away, the boy raised his shooter and hit him again.

The teacher inside of me reared up because I’d had enough with this boy’s unchecked disrespect. I walked over to where this young man was sitting and politely informed him that what he was doing was downright rude, and to envision himself in these people’s places. I also let him know that he was well out of line and if he didn’t stop, I’d speak with his parents. The boy wouldn’t look me in the eye but uttered a slew of ‘yes sirs’ while staring at the ground.

I returned to my place and continued to watch the parade.

The boy sat in his chair for a few minutes then retreated back to where his family had been sitting four or five feet behind him. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him watching me and then, very discreetly, he started shooting Snappers into the parade again. At one point, we made eye contact and he grinned at me and then faded behind the shielding protection of a family member.

I was a fifth grade teacher. If I’d had a student at my school not follow through with instructions from any adult, I’d have done something about it—after all, I was an authority figure. However, here in the midst of parade-goers I was a nobody. After the boy fired a few more shots at a couple of grandparents on a wagon, I stood and walked to where he was sitting. Authority or no authority, something had to be done. I stood in front of this family gathering and asked who this boy’s dad was. It was the man with the stomach sagging well beneath his T shirt. I politely explained what it was his son was doing, (but really, how could he not know because his son was right in front of him?) The man wore a look of surprise on his face.

The father replied, “Look, they’re just Snappers. They don’t hurt anyone.”

“Did you see the teenager on the float that your son hit twice? Did it look like these things felt good to him?”

The man was silent and I plowed on, “In reality, it’s disrespectful what your son’s doing to all of these people; I’d appreciate it if you’d tell him to stop. I’ve got friends in this parade and he’s been shooting at them, too. That really bothers me.”

I was waiting for this man to get upset and tell me that I had no right to tell his son anything, but I was surprised as he said that he’d have his boy stop. I thanked the man and started to return to my place when somebody else in the crowd called out, “You go, guy! Good job!”

As I sat down I thought about this person’s statement telling me that I’d done a good job. In reality, others around had noted the boy’s actions, and it had bothered them, but nobody had done a thing. I guess this comes from living in a society where all too often we don’t feel it’s our place or responsibility so we don’t say anything.

It does, indeed, take an entire community to raise a child.

P.S. I still hate parades…


Chrissy said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!. I completely understand your apprehension and I applaud your guts in following through... I've been in that situation where everyone is afraid to say a word... all that does is, infuriate me more... I wonder how he would of felt if u had told that man that the person he hit was your kid? lol....There are so many 'parents' who need parenting classes but I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree... The parent's action/or lack of is probably how his parent was w/him... the problem perpetuates...from generation to another...and me being the cynic has a feeling that what u said made a slight dent in their pea brain but in a day, it will be history...

Shannon said...

I hate parades too. I've lived in Tucson for 15 years and have not once gone to see the Rodeo Parade - famous for being the largest non-motorized event of its kind. Why don't I go to parades? Precisely because of situations like you found yourself in. Kudos to you Mr. Z - if my boys are misbehaving (without me knowing, which they should only be doing at home), I would expect another adult to come and alert me in a diplomatic fashion. It's all in the delivery, and it counts.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

Great sentiment. I see why you follow Cheeseboy and he follows you. I'd love to witness the 2 of you chasing each other in circles.
Thanks for helping me get to 200! I'm happy to follow you around too.

Joel said...

I applaud you! And shame on the clueless parents and adults around the scene. I've done things like that at a few times and my sons always say "uh-oh, Dad's using his teacher voice!"

ps My sons hate parades too, 'cause I make them walk in one every year...

Lori said...

Ick. "They don't hurt?" I guess the reason it takes a village is parents like those. You were so much nicer and more restrained that I could've been if one of those things had made contact with one of my cubs...

you go, boyeeeeeeeeee ;)

Rachel said...

Oh you're in trouble! No ONE? Am I no one??? :D Do you forget me yelling at that group telling them to NOT throw those at the horses as they went by?

It didn't get any better after you left. I'll tell you something REALLY frustrating. You are a male. People, especially other males will listen to another male. Me, being female.....well......I'm just hormonal right? After you left I got after the punks but to no avail. I was just the witch. I'm keeping this rated PG.

But the "witch" in me had some real issues when my own babies came and sat next to me after they were done walking in the parade and told me that some of those poppers had landed on their bare legs and yes, IT HURT!

So, when you told that man that you had family in the parade and his son was hitting them....you were right. They did get hit....and I was ticked. But they didn't care. Nor did they care when they left to clean up the huge mess of popper wrappers they'd left behind.

Probably a good thing you left when you did...... although I could have still used your male influence since they listened to you more than me.... the nobody. ;)

And should you wonder why The SM didn't take over where you left off.....he had to run Levi into the house to take care of his needs. In his defence.....

Anonymous said...

Yes. It takes a village. I suspect many people would expect that the child's father would take his side instead of doing what's right. That happens all too often anymore. The sense of entitlement kids have is downright staggering these days. Geez. Now I sound like an old lady. But still. Well done, young man. :)

Richard & Natalie said...

Go TF! Go TF! Go, go, go TF!

What a punk. I'm glad you put him in his place and his dad too.

Some of us aren't good at confrontation, but we are learning. Thankfully, we have good examples to learn from.

Carrie Stuart said...

Good for you! I would have done the same thing. I know that's easy to say (from Japan, lol!) but it's true. My husband laughs and says I come from a long line of bossy pioneer women so I come by it rightly...and it's true. But, like Rachel, I probably would have just been thought of as PMSing and dismissed. But I still would have given the boy AND his dad what for. Something needs to be done about that issue in the future (more police presence?). People should not have to worry about such things when marching in a parade. I LOVE parades if they have military marching bands. That's about all.

Kelly said...

It's really to bad that you had to say anything at all. Especially the second time when he was clearly testing you. Some people's kids!

Good Job! I love a parade, but I dislike the crowds and the rude people.

tammy said...

Good for you. That little boy was probably used to getting away with things like that.

I'm glad the father listened to you and didn't decide to punch you in the face instead.

I think there's a reason why I haven't been to a parade since I was a kid. That and who wants to watch a Fouth of July parade in AZ where it's 110?

Shirley said...

WTG!!!! If one of my little angels were acting like a horses behind and ignored your first request to be civilized, you can bet your last pay check they would be hearing more then a request to stop from me!But then not all parental figures teach children to respect ALL of their elders, if my child doesn't like what an adult has said they are to ask me before ignoreing them. But 9 times out of 10 they know I will back up the adult and they had better mind their manners.

Annette said...

Doesn't something like that just sour your whole time? That's one thing that is awsome about you is you will stand up (afraid or not) and do something.

I'd do the same thing (and have)! Maybe it's the teacher in us, but I have no problem telling kids if they are wrong and stopping it if I have to. I do however struggle with confronting "adults", as I discovered recently.

Okay, what would you have done in this situation? I was in line at the video store and two adults in their 20's were on a date, and were looking at some candy thing, when it broke open in their hands. So, they quickly put it back, now damaged, giggling as they did it. 2 adults! They didn't own up and pay for it. Instead they left it, a cost that now has to be picked up by the video store. I was fuming inside (can you tell?) But I couldn't open up my mouth to say anything. If they were kids, I would have pointed it out, and made them show the clerk and pay. But I couldn't make myself do it to adults. Was I afraid? It's one of those social settings where I'm too uncomfortable to face the consequences. I felt like a total loser for doing nothing.

I'm guessing the people around you at the parade either didn't care or felt like I did.

PS. You should have sat with us! In the shade by the new Zion's bank building- with Houghtons, Blacks (well, one), and other familiar faces. I tell you- the kids with us were a joy to be around- they cheered for every group that passed, stood for every soldier, even helped clean up afterward. Same parade, totally different experience.

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