Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

Adults teach children through actions

Bits and Pieces

June 14, 2007

Still thinking about my last column relating to grandsons who are quickly growing up, I had some insights that I would like to share.

When the boys were younger they were easily entertained. A trip to the bookstore to look at all the stuff, purchase of a puzzle or art kit at a hobby shop, bouncing one of those oversized balls from Wal-Mart, watching a movie together or a trip to a fast-food restaurant was always a day brightener for both the boys and myself. And when they were very small, a visit to the Museum of Natural History on the hill to touch Comanche, Chief Crazy Horse's horse and check out the snakes was always a thrill.

Thinking about how quickly children's interests change as they grow up, I discovered that when kids are small we invite them into our world, and as they grow older we'd better be ready to enter their world if we are to relate or to even catch a of glimpse of them.

With that said, I recalled a recent trip to Emporia with my 13-year-old grandson, who accompanied me this past week on my belated Memorial Day rounds to place flowers on my family's graves.

Our conversation included his dream of someday working for Nintendo as an artist who creates videos. Having already created four characters, he now is beginning to write the story line. Our conversation included references to games, techniques and technology that were part of his world but foreign to mine. Maybe I didn't get the details but I did relate to the idea of his dream and there we found common ground.

This past weekend several family members were present at another grandson's baseball game in Ottawa. These games the past few years have become a pleasant blend of watching kids enjoy playing the game and visiting with family and friends.

The behavior of the coaches has been exemplary as well as that of the boys -- sportsmanlike conduct has been the rule and winning and losing has been handled equally well allowing the boys to deal with both as part of the game.

This past weekend we happened to be playing an area team from Louisburg, which is one of Eudora's past and present rivals. All went well until our team moved into the lead and one of the Louisburg coaches decided he did not like a particular call that had been made previously in the game.

Tempers flared with two of the coaches and at one point several of the dads moved in unison toward the dugout just in case their help might be needed. One of the mothers not so quietly remarked, "Oh, oh here comes the 'A' team" or as I thought the "Men in Black."

At that point with my son prodding me in the ribs to keep still, I didn't and before I knew it I was chiming in saying, "Hey, this is about boys playing ball. Now let's play ball." And one of the other mothers joined in saying, "Yeah, it's not about the dads." (Or the big boys." I'm not sure which.) With a thumb's up to each other, many of the women agreed with our assessment and while it did not end the dispute, it did break it up for a time. As we were leaving, we noticed that the opposing team was arguing with the referees who were trying to escape.

This incident reminded me of another time and another era when my son was playing college football at Emporia State University. A parent who had a son playing on our team constantly harassed one of our own players who happened to be black.

Such remarks as the game progressed appeared to be coming from the fact that the black player was given a scholarship and his son was not. As the remarks became more insulting, I couldn't resist and rose to confront him. I took him to task, letting him know that my son had not received a scholarship either and asked him to refrain from his obnoxious comments because the mother of the black player was sitting in front of us and rode a bus all the way from Oklahoma to see her son play this game.

My husband was not happy with my ranting, especially since the harasser happened to be a very large person.

Spectator sports can be great fun or they can become opportunities for those watching to vent their own frustrations. I am hoping the parents of children who are playing baseball this summer and who are perhaps more interested in the treat at the end of the game, consider their behavior and their speech.

The example set by the adults is what kids remember.

"We teach in many ways, sometimes with words."

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