December 17, 2010

there will be no more levity on this trip!

When I was in my early teens, I went backpacking with my brother and my father.  Near the trailhead, we passed what appeared to be a group of inner city kids, about my age, on a day hike with a couple of adult leaders.  I don't know what happened to cause such anger in the leader less than a half mile from the parking lot, but as we passed them he turned, halted the line of kids, and yelled at them, "That's IT.  There will be no more levity on this trip!"

Perhaps he was using the word levity in a way I was not used to.  Or perhaps he was just a meanie.

In any case, I was reminded of that story when I read this post at the US Chamber's blog, "The ChamberPost," today.  What struck me most about this, apart from the fact that The ChamberPost looks unfortunately like The ChamberPot at a quick glance, was just how colossally selfish, stupid, and reactionary young parents are these days.

Earlier this week, a parent called the cops on a preschool because they duct-taped his little brat's sleeves together so he wouldn't hurt a teacher or other students.  I guess the father never thought to actually discipline his kid for being a little shit all day.  A better lesson for his boy would be to drop the weight of law enforcement on the teachers and staff of the preschool.  Classy.  (Then again, you know what they say about the proximity relationship between fallen apples and their trees.)

Then on Wednesday we learned about a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of some parents who want to force McDonald's to stop making their children whine.  Instead of working on changing their children's bratty behavior, these parents chose to put their efforts into changing the behavior of one of the world's largest companies.  Again, apples and trees.  One wonders if the first time these parents will hear the word "no" will be when the judge kicks them out of the courtroom, as I hope he or she will.

And now this.  Swing sets removed from playgrounds at the mere threat of a lawsuit.  This parent apparently thinks it's easier to hire a lawyer than to apply a band-aid.  The real tragedy is that this is not an isolated case.  Liability risk is causing some schools to be built without playgrounds at all.

This is simply astonishing to me, and a tragedy of epic proportions.  No, I'm not kidding.  This lawsuit culture we've built, this culture of blaming someone else for everything and then demanding through courts and police that they be punished or pay, is hurtful to the future of our society.  There is no freedom when you can be hit with a lawsuit after being hit head-on.  There is no democracy when a man with a lawyer can hold the levity of hundreds of kids hostage.

These lawsuits illuminate the disgusting aspect of our culture that encourages people to blame others for everything, including their own shortcomings.

5 comments:

Chris said...

Amen to that Peter. The culture of suing has got to stop.

Laurel said...

SIng it loud! When I was in kindergarten, I broke my arm on the monkey bars.

We had been given bubbles. The soap kind that make your hands all slippery. My hands were slick as goose grease when I went up the bars. I distinctly remember thinking, "My hands are all slimy. Might be a bad idea...but washing? Nah. Too much time." So I swiped my greasy palms on my pants legs and went for the uber-complex maneuver where you grab the first bar and swing your legs up and over the next to hang upside-down.

Hands slipped, I flipped on the way down and landed on my arm. If it occurred to a 5 year old that soap slimed hands and monkey bars don't mix it should surely have crossed the mind of one of the teachers but nope. Did anyone get sued? Not even a little bit. The happy ending is that the future kindergardeners still had access to both bubbles and monkey bars. Though hopefully with a bit more discretion.

And regarding "no", my kids hear it with frequency. Half the people at the grocery store glare at me because they think I'm a nazi but the other half get it. And guess what? With two off-the-charts strong willed kids we don't have tantrums at the store.

People forget that no matter how much they adore their little angels, nobody else is obligated to so much as like them. I want mine to be welcome in other people's homes, a pleasure to be around, productive when they grow up. Part of that program is teaching them that they are not the center of the universe. I don't want what they came from to limit where they will go.

fairyhedgehog said...

"Safety" and "security" mean that we can't live our lives, just in case something bad happens. Better to hide inside away from falls, germs, terrorists, fattening fast food, etc.

Or maybe we could just get on with living a bit? Nah. Not gonna happen.

Sarah Laurenson said...

You must not have fun. You must be safe at all costs. Fear is your friend. All germs are to be avoided, too. Life is meant to be regimented to the nth iota.

Hah! I think we're becoming a culture of "proactivity extremus". If one child can get hurt on a swingset, then all swingsets must be removed. No pain allowed, and no life lessons either.

I'm one of those who learns the hard way. Never broke a bone - uber cautious kid - but I did get hurt and I did learn to not grip the monkey bars with slippery palms (good one, Laurel). I know I spent way more time off the ground than on it as a child. Not sure how I missed out on breaking my arm.

Peter Dudley said...

I heard that an ADA lawsuit forced our local school district to put in that rubbery playground surface instead of bark, sand, or pebbles. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars tearing out and rebuilding about 30 elementary school playgrounds.

I recently heard there's a counter-suit in southern California demanding that the surfaces be taken out because they are in fact more dangerous than the other materials.

Our facilities guy told me that in his 30+ years working school facilities, he never saw a long-bone injury on pebbles, sand, or bark. Since the rubbery surfaces were installed, he had seen several, including a broken femur.

It's all just so frustrating.