Sunday, July 20, 2008
No Spanking at Sea World
I think this is a good rule. If anyone from Sea World or the Anheuser-Busch corporation reads my blog, promise me you'll do everything in your power to make this a real rule.
My friends J & R went to Sea World with their 5-yr old. On an absolutely sweltering Texas summer day. Along with about 500 million other families. As they were going in, J happened to notice a group of several families, adults and kiddos, also entering. For some reason, they caught her eye. Well, later on that day, J & R stopped at some place in the park, and the same cluster of families was nearby. By this time, one of the kids was crying, and his dad was losing patience with him. Well, before you can say "Shamu," J sees the dad pick up his kid by the arm and begin whacking him on the behind. Right there, in front of everyone.
Now my friend J is not some meek bystander type. So she courageously walks up to the guy and asks, "Do you need to take a break?" And he asks her to repeat herself, so she does. He tells her he does, in fact, not need a break. J says, "That's going to stay with him for the rest of his life." To which Bruiser replies, "I want it to stay with him for the rest of his life." And then his wife, in what J described as a sticky sweet tone, walks up to interrupt, saying, "Ma'am? This doesn't concern you. Please move on." J replied that when someone chooses to physically discipline their child in front of her child, it actually does concern her. And the wife just repeated herself until J moved on.
I think there should be a whole website devoted to how to approach people who spank or shame their kids in public. Because although I so admire J's nerve, I can imagine being totally taken aback, and not knowing what to say, when this dad responded as he did. Someone (maybe even me!) needs to create a place where folks can find (and give) words to say in these moments. Because even if the parents are convinced that what their doing is the very best, one stranger chiming in with a different perspective could get through to that kid. And he might remember it and think back on it when he, for example, grows up and wants to understand why he has certain problems he may have.
When I heard the story, here's what I wish J had said: "Even the most hardcore proponents of spanking say that you shouldn't do it in anger, and you seem kinda angry. And you're at Sea World. And the tickets are REALLY expensive, and I doubt you worked so hard and saved up that much money so you could come here and hit your kid."