Archive for November, 2007

Sickness and Stupidity

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

When one is suffering from a cold, flu or other infectious illness, it’s a good idea to avoid contact with others. Stupers (short for irrepressibly stupid persons) do not readily understand this concept.

This is particularly true when it comes to limiting exposure of sick kids to well ones. Unfortunately, parents who subscribe to the minimalist school of thought have no qualms about hauling a child about who is contagiously ill to ensure contact with others. Too often children with runny noses, hacking coughs, and glassy eyes are cheerfully dropped off at school or dragged around on errands by parents eager to get on with their day. What is the proper handling of such idiotic situations?

As a 4-H Project Leader, I needed to sign off on end-of-the-year project reports completed by kids who’d participated in the activity that I’d led. A week before these signatures were due, I heard a knock on my front door. I opened it to find Mrs. Smith on the doorstep.

“I hope you don’t mind,” said she. “But I thought I’d come by early and have you sign Ricky’s report.”

“Sure,” I replied. “Come on in.”

As Mrs. Smith stepped into my home, she yelled over her shoulder, “Come on, Baby!”

Baby was her ten-year old son, Ricky, an impish, round-faced boy, usually very boisterous, but quiet today. I figured he temporarily suffered from a bout of shyness upon entering my house for the first time.

“Poor guy,” cooed Mrs. Smith as they sat down in my living room. “He’s got infectious mono and a 103 degree fever.”

I stared at Ricky who smiled weakly, wiped his nose on his arm, then indiscreetly wiped the same arm on the back of a nearby wing backed chair.

This is what I felt like doing to the asinine Mrs. Smith:

Instead, I pondered my options. I could:

  1. Immediately pick up the boy and/or his mom and throw them outside;
  2. Call 911;
  3. Refuse to sign the project report and give the mom a lecture on how to properly take care of a sick child;
  4. Stick Mrs. Smith’s head in front of a rapidly approaching train to see if I could arouse a proper reaction.

As it was, I retrieved my lower jaw from my chest, restrained any urge to physically remove the smiling Mrs. Smith and reminded her that Ricky should be at home. I would review his report later. I then ushered them out.

The entire project report signing would take about ten minutes, so Ricky could have waited in the car in the safety of my driveway while Mrs. Smith left the report with me and either waited outside with her son or come back later. Dear sympathetic readers might be shaking their heads, and wondering why I didn’t spare a few minutes as the meager minded mother and sick son were already in my home. But the truth is, I’d had experience with Mrs. Smith before and knew that it was her nature to talk incessantly of her troubles.

The first time we’d met, I listened intently to her, telling myself that perhaps this distressed person needed an outlet for her woes. Then I realized that half the town was well acquainted with her myriad of problems.

Do troubles ever end when a stuper insists on exposing past and present maladies to one and all that crosses her path? Does it ever occur to a stuper that not everyone needs or wants to know? Why the desire to retell the same story?

There is nothing wrong with sharing or discussing a personal hardship, but most of us realize that there’s a time to move on. Stupers do not reach this conclusion, once again, due to slow or nonfunctional thought processes.

No progress occurs for any one who continues repeating the same tales without any purpose other than to hear herself over and over again. It perpetuates stupidity and spreads to other aspects of life, such as being blind to the need to stay at home with a sick child.

Thinking is an asset.












Give Stupidity a Time-out

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

“Kill himmmm!” someone screeched from the bleachers.

I had a problem with this. The screamer was yelling for someone to kill my then eight-year-old son.

The above battle cry did not come from a roving banshee. Nor did it emanate from a member of the Zamgoozee tribe from deepest, darkest Africa who somehow managed to master a few key terms in English. A parent/stuper (short for a distressingly stupid person) emitted said scream during a Tae Kwon Do meet at UCLA. Am I mistaken, or do I not live in a civilized part of the world? Isn’t California still considered civilized by some?

Kids from surrounding cities met in a match to display their prowess in martial arts. Physical contact was not permitted at the lower age levels; just a demonstration of proper moves by adorable trios of little wannabe Jackie Chans. Tae Kwon Do encourages yells by students (“Yah!”) in order to display power through muscle tension. Key words here are “by students” not “by stupers” sitting in the audience.

I read about such unseemly situations becoming so out-of-control that parents were carted off to jail for excessive behavior. Two dueling mothers set a Guinness Book World record for most utterances of b*&ch in a span of 42 seconds at a little league soccer match. A father was arrested for waving a .357 Magnum around like it was a parade streamer in the face of his son’s football coach. By the way, it was seven-and-under, peewee football.

These are instances of stupers attempting to give coaches and other parents a piece of their minds. This is severely taxing to all since the minds of these belligerent agitators are barren. It’s like turning out all trouser and jacket pockets and always coming up empty handed.

Does the fact that most of us parents spend a small fortune on classes and equipment entitle us to act like Babylonian warriors? Do we have kids so that we may perfect our little mini-selves in places where we fall short? Or is it just stupidity?

Parents who scream at students and coaches need to be thrown out or banned from such events and not permitted re-entry unless they agree to undergo rigorous sporting event etiquette training. Semi-sedation in the form of nitrous oxide (i.e., laughing gas) should be permitted in emergency situations. That would help lighten things up a bit.

The purpose of kids’ sports events is twofold. Fun and more fun. Hopefully enjoyable too for the parents who are quietly or contentedly observing in the stands.

Children should bring out the best in us. We can’t afford to allow ourselves to transform into stupers, especially in front of our kids at events that are meant to benefit them. Losing self-control is equal to stupidity. To do so in front of our children is monumental stupidity.

I hear there’s a dearth of role-models for today’s kids. Would it be too burdensome to remind parents that the best role models exist inside the home?

Think first, last and always!