Sunday, October 27, 2002

The Kids Are all right?

Great quote:

"This is baseball. If you can't get over a bad game, you're in the wrong sport.'' -- Todd Worrell after the Giants' collapse last night.

I'd go so far as to say you need a similar attitude not just in baseball but life in general.

So you've all seen the ubiquitous image or highlight video clip of little batboy Darren Baker nearly getting mowed down at the plate. Edes says it best:

If MLB comes down and bans the practice of having children serving as batboys, like Darren Baker, they come across as anti-kid and alienate one of the most popular and sympathetic figures in the game, Dusty Baker, who is recovering from prostate cancer. But there's no reason that a big-league clubhouse should resemble a day-care center; that's why teams have family rooms. A little common sense, please (The Globe's Baseball Notes).

Now I like kids as much as the next guy, and little Darren Baker is the definition of adorable, cuddly, and cute; however, one of my biggest pet peeves is the blurring of the lines between "kid space" and "adult space" in our culture. There are places where it's OK for kids to be and places where kids shouldn't be allowed.

And if a parent is going to allow their child into the adult space, the onus is on the parent to make sure the kid doesn't interfere with the adults. The incident the other night was an extreme situation, but it reminds me of the kind of thing I see so often.

At least once a week I'll have a situation in which I'm at a restaurant (an adult restaurant, I mean, not a Chucky Cheese or Rain Forest Cafe or other kid oriented place), eating lunch during the week or out with my wife on the weekend, and there will invariably be kids in the restaurant. No problem. Kids need to be exposed to social activities like dining out. But more often than not what I encounter are kids running around, knocking into my table, or screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs, or tossing their food around, and the parents just sit there with these glowing smiles saying "Oh, isn't little Johnny so cute?"

No, little Johnny is misbehaving. Little Johnny needs some sort of discipline from his adult parents. Little Johnny needs to learn that the entirety of shared, public space is not his own private kingdom.

Worse, if I dare to give a look of reprove toward the parents, a look suggesting "hey, your little punk kid is bothering the hell out of everybody why don't you do something about it," in most cases I'm then the one considered out of line, a child hater. The parents will roll their eyes at me and whisper to each other knowingly. And the kids continue to misbehave.

I hate to sound like one of those old geezer "back in my day" types, but I tell you back in my day my parents made sure we acted appropriately when my sister and I were in a restaurant or other public space in which a certain degree of decorum was expected. All parents did.

Am I alone in thinking there is a connection between what I described above and the perceived growing lack of interest in baseball by younger generations? Playing baseball even at the Little League level requires enormous discipline. And watching baseball as a fan requires concentration and discipline as well. I think the so-called extreme sports will continue to be of more interest to kids who grow up never learning how to modify their behavior for various types of social situations.