Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Good Walk Ruined

So the sun is shining, it’s 30+ outside and I’m taking a walk through Victoria Park as I have done nearly every lunch hour for the last three weeks – just me, my sandwiches and my MP3 player – and I’m kind of at peace with the world.

You know, lush tunes, warm feelings, glorious sunshine... for half an hour at least all seems to be right with the world.

And then I spy two kids lamping the hell out of each other across the other side of the park. And I mean really going for it. Fists, feet, head-locks, the works.

This is souring in itself – I mean it’s not pleasant to watch two 11 years olds knocking seven bells out of each other – but what makes it ineffably worse is that they are plainly in the company of three adults who are standing by and watching it all unfold. And by watching I mean watching like they’re an audience at a kick-boxing match.

One of the kids goes down with the other one on top of him still pummelling away. I’m quite sickened by this point and am glad to see one of the adults – the male – finally getting up and going over to them.

Only he doesn’t stop them fighting. He separates them, apparently gives them advice on fighting fairly and then lets them set to once more. Round two – ding ding.

I’m astounded.

What parent / guardian would let their kids slug it out in this way? Surely you’d stop them? Give them a stiff talking to and send them away separately to cool off? Not make it a spectator sport!

Oh but of course, Mr Referee was instilling the values of fighting fair into them. Establishing a chivalrous code of gentlemanly conduct and rules of engagement. No knives, pistols, house bricks or eye gouging, please gentlemen. I want a fair fight. Queensbury rules. May the best man win. Loser to crawl off and die somewhere quietly without crying like a big baby.

That this guy’s two female companions could sit complacently by, sunning their shoulders and chatting about handbags while The Gangs Of New York was playing out before them just makes me shudder. I was really disgusted by the whole thing. Not even the velvety vocals of Wendy & Lisa could restore my happy equilibrium after this little interlude.

I trudged back to work feeling sullied (and not in a good way).

Parents? Some kids do ‘ave ‘em.

21 comments:

kate5kiwis said...

ouch.
yeah that is really strange, i would be so distressed wanting to intervene to protect the kids but not wanting to be abused by the parent.

Steve said...

I couldn't quite believe it was happening at first and then went through the "shall I / shan't I" intervene thing. In the end I decided not to. Or "bottled out" is another way of looking at it... but I suspect I would only have made things worse if I'd interfered... or ended up being beaten up by the parents and the kids in unison...

The Sagittarian said...

What a hideous situation! It really is a tough call, I would have done the same I think. Kate is right, the parents would no doubt have made you out to be the bad guy. Which you're not. Hope tomorrow's lunch is heaps better, enjoy the heat!!

Steve said...

Thanks Amanda, trouble is no matter how much I try and rationalize the situation part of me still thinks I should have done something... rather than sitting there like a lemon and then merely complaining about it on my blog!

Reluctant Blogger said...

Aw no, you really shouldn't have done anything. You just never know how some parents will react. I used to tell children off for throwing soil and stuff on the Common but I've stopped now unless they throw it at me or mine because the parents get really stroppy. I presume the children were of roughly equal age/size? If so, whilst it is a horrid thing to encourage children to fight, they were unlikely to come to any serious harm.

But yeah - some parents. . . I'd throttle my sons if they were fighting in public!!!

Steve said...

Hi Gina, there was rather a size difference between the two combatants but I'd guess they were of similar age - no more than a year between them. The fighting was horrible but I think what got my goat more was the cavalier attitude of the adults... like them fighting was of no consequence and not worth any effort to stop them or have a word with them. Such an uncaring attitude. I would almost have preferred to see the adults pulling them apart and giving them a damned good thrashing with a birch branch. At least that would have indicated some sort of emotional and moral connection with their children! And then my course of action would have been clearer too: a quick phone call to Social Services and I could have the entire family mashed between the rusty wheels of UK bureaucracy and red tape... only joking! ;-)

MOTHER OF MANY said...

I remember a case where a group of mothers videoed their toddlers fighting and the mothers were heard encouraging the violence.
We live in a very strange world.

Steve said...

Hi Ally, yes I remember that story appearing on the news and feeling quite disgusted by it. I suppose I ought to be grateful that what I saw didn't involve very young children... or the parents filming it on their mobile phones to post up on YouTube later...!

TimeWarden said...

Sounds ghastly... There was a time when I would've called the police but we've had so many problems with ever-increasing amounts of vandalism, followed by very little justice, that I don't think I'd bother now!

Sometimes I think adults need protecting from the corrupting influence of children. Your "white trash" label just about says it all and you describe one of the many reasons why I'd simply rather bury my head in the fantasy worlds of "Doctor Who" and "Heroes"!

Steve said...

I know what you mean TimeWarden and I guess by walking away and immersing myself in music I was attempting to do the same. It's a shame that we live in a world where escapism is so necessary to our survival and sanity!

The Sagittarian said...

If your police are anything like ours, they would be too busy/under-resourced to have attended anyway! It's tough indeed when those charged with protecting the community have to prioritise how they will do that within budgetary contstraints!

Steve said...

I think our police would see it purely as a "domestic" and not get involved at all... unless the kids were wielding knives and spraying graffiti all over the park of course.

Daisy said...

steve...i have seen that before and have gone up to stop the fighting...because of stopping it i have then been chastised by the parents for not letting the kids "work it out" to which i respond that is not the way to work anything out...fight just proves who is bigger or stronger, not who is right...however in saying this please understand i have no problem standing my ground toe to toe with another adult as i grew up boxing...i guess with the work i do i see too much of people hurting children and by allowing it i am agreeing with it (according to my greatgrandmother who cursed me with that thought) and i can't just walk away...it does however drive my husband (or whoever is with me at the time) nuts that i do this and i have been told by friends that one day it will be given to me back by one of the parents...it's just that sometimes you have to stand up for what is right...period...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

'Toddler-baiting' is supposed to be the latest thing with parents meeting in each others' houses and getting their toddlers to slug it out while they watch and place bets.

No, really.

I suppose now dogs and bears etc have been outlawed, kiddie-fights are the in thing.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

One of the schools my wife has worked at in the past is in a pretty rough estate, she says when the home time bell goes it's almost like a 'time to fight' bell, and kids all ages just start laying into each other. !!

Old Cheeser said...

I think you did the right thing walking away. This kind of thing goes on in London all the time. Parents that are bad as their kids. The other weekend me and Gustavo were walking through our local park and a bunch of kids and their parents were sat on a nearby bench. One of the kids (a boy of about 10 years old or more?) started shouting in a p*sstake voice: "Oooh hello batty boys! When are you going to get married?" and his parents just sat there doing nothing. I erm, gave him the finger and Gustavo told me I shouldn't have done...so we walked on regardless...Okay not the same as kids pummelling the sh*t out of each other, but still hard to know how to react sometimes!

Steve said...

You're a braver person than I am Daisy, and I really respect you for it. In reality I suspect I did the right thing by walking away... but am bugged by the thought that I didn't do a good thing. I guess there's a difference.

Laura, there was a news report on the news (funnily enough) a while ago about such a thing involving some young mums. Karen and I were disgusted. When I look at Tom I just want to hug him... not set him off in a mini kick-boxing ring! Some people are just utter crud.

Andrew, your wife has my respect that she's able to operate in such environments... I'm not sure I could handle it.

OC, your experience is just horrible... worse in some ways as the kids were blatantly attacking you as you walked down the street and the parents were condoning it by their silence. I really don't get where some people's heads are these days. Surely they must realize the difference between right and wrong? Surely they must want their kids to have such knowledge for themselves? I think you were incredibly brave to give them the finger... kids these days tend to pull out kitchen knives and MK47's from their school satchels... I sometimes think compulsory boot camps for trouble makers should make a come-back... and a camp for their parents too!

Daisy said...

steve...i am not braver than anyone...stupid maybe...it is just who i am and often i get myself in situations where people don't understand why or how i get out of...i just follow my instincts and go from there...you did what your instincts told you and that was not wrong...after all it was not your place to intervene...i had a different upbringing (good or bad) and it is just the person i am...and a lot of times it is stupid...

lucyfishwife said...

Pit bulls and Rottweilers cost good money these days and if the RSPCA catch you fighting them, well you're looking at a hefty fine - on the other hand, kids are free, and you don't usually have to keep them on a lead.

Steve said...

Daisy, stop ducking out of the way when I pay you a compliment! ;-)

Lucy - clothes, food, schooling... kids ain't as "free" as they used to be!

Daisy said...

steve...i don't do well with compliments...never have...but thank you :)