There are a lot of really smart people out there trying to figure out just what has caused the mess America is in. I have heard a lot of explanations: rich people, poor people, Republicans, Democrats, white people, non-white people, gay people, straight people, banker people, home buyer people and on and on and on. Oh, and how could I forget the most mentioned reason, George W. Bush. I am not here to blame anyone but I do want to add a group to the list: crappy parents. Just today I came across two parents that clearly are contributing to the demise of humanity.
The first parent is an overzealous sports parent. A friend that I work with has taken on the unenviable task of coaching a freshman high school baseball team. He called me today to ask that I review an e-mail he was sending back to a parent that was complaining. For those people that live in Oregon that probably sounds impossible but trust that baseball season in California is already under way, but barely. My friend just coached the season's first game yesterday and already has a parent on his case.
The problem was that his son was playing in the outfield, made an error and another parent commented on the kid's blunder. Instead of telling the other dad to, "shut up," the two proceed to have a loud discussion behind the team dugout about how stupid the coach is. You see, the kid that made the error has played an infield position his entire life, not in the outfield. My friend doesn't think the kid has what it takes to play middle infield at this time but wants his bat in the lineup. Take it from me, it is to one's advantage to swing a good bat and be a suspect fielder. I was the exact opposite and my career peaked in 8th or 9th grade.
I will give my friend credit, his first draft at a response was very diplomatic, something I am terrible at when dealing with people of low intelligence. I did make some slight changes but was left wondering what in the world the dad was thinking? His son starts his first high school game because the coach wants his bat in the lineup and he's bent out of shape because an error was made. You have to figure that is probably going to be the only error made by the entire freshman team all season. It stinks that my friend has to deal with this parent all season but the person I really feel sorry for is the kid.
Not to be upstaged by the worst sports dad of 2009, I came across the laziest mom of the decade on my run today. Just when I think I have heard or seen the worst parenting in my life someone trumps it. There was a girl, maybe eight or nine, on her bicycle being followed by a small SUV around the neighborhood. From a distance I was confused/worried but as I got closer I realized I was witnessing very lazy parenting. Mom was in the car following the daughter around the neighborhood, barking orders at her if she was veering too far away from the far right-hand side of the road and using her phone to write e-mails. I know this because I was running very slow today (trying to avoid an injury from getting worse), was on the other side of the road for a good half mile and the mom was yelling out the driver side window even though her daughter was on the opposite side.
To top it off, it was clear from what can be seen from the driver side that mom should have asked Santa for a gym membership, running shoes or both. Maybe I'm being too mean but it seemed pathetic to me. I could never imagine having my daughter ask me to go on a bike ride and me responding by getting the car keys and hopping in the car.
I realize I have only been a parent for 11.5 months and that there is not one correct way to parent but these parents are terrible. Perhaps there are a lot of people out there that see nothing wrong with these two incidents. If that is the case it further proves my point that a primary reason for things falling apart is that too many parents are dropping the ball. Instead of blaming everyone else for our problems we might want to look at the branch hanging above us on the family tree and make sure our kids won't have to do the same thing. (I am speaking in general terms here, my parents allowed me to fail and weren't lazy.)