Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Can" Doesn't Always Equal "Should"

Several years ago, my dad was assaulted at a fast food restaurant. The assailant fled, and my dad wound up with a broken hip. The assailant had enough of a conscience to call the restaurant afterward and ask how my dad was, but not enough of one to turn himself in. After my dad was released from the hospital, having had surgery and a lot of physical therapy, a lawyer told my parents they could sue the restaurant. Excuse me? Yeah, we were all angry about what had happened, and some of us (ahem) spent a lot of time driving around the surrounding neighborhoods, looking for cars that fit the description of the assailant's vehicle. It was awful. But did the restaurant assault my dad? Was the restaurant responsible for knowing a guy was about to attack my dad? It wasn't even my dad's fault. The entire blame lay with the guy who got away, and I have to believe karma will even things out someday. When my folks told us kids about the lawyer's suggestion, we said if they decided to go that route, they'd better not tell us about it because we didn't support it, and in the end they decided not to sue the restaurant because it was just plain wrong.

A few weeks ago, the kiddo, his dad and I went to a baseball game for Little League Day. Prior to the start of what turned out to be a 17-inning game, the announcer requested a moment of silence in respect for Josh Hancock, the Cardinals pitcher who'd been killed in a car crash the night before. Wow, I thought, how terribly sad. Fast forward to today's sports news, in which I read that Hancock's father is suing the restaurant that served drinks to his adult son earlier that night, the tow truck company whose truck Hancock hit, the tow truck driver, and the owner of the car that the tow truck was assisting. (No one but Hancock was killed or even injured.) Well, guess what. As I learned not long after the crash, Josh Hancock had been driving drunk, speeding, talking on his cell phone and not wearing a seat belt. Talk about tempting fate. Then again, look at the latest actions of the guy who was supposed to teach his son about responsibility. Doesn't it all make sense now?

I'm sorry for Josh Hancock's family. The whole situation is sad, and I can't even imagine what their pain is like right now. I can only hope it's their pain that's temporarily causing them to look everywhere for people to blame for Hancock's actions that night. Maybe they'll think about what kind of message they and their son are sending to kids who adore their sports heroes. And maybe they'll realize that they and Hancock have no one to blame for his death except Hancock himself. That'll be a hard realization, and I feel for them.

Monday, May 14, 2007

London, France Put on Alert

Yesterday my son and I celebrated Mother's Day at Balboa Park, arriving in time for the last quarter of the weekly concert at Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Afterward, we strolled along, observing flowers and people. A young bride was having her picture taken on one of the lawns, so I pointed her out to the kiddo and told him the pretty lady in the long, white dress was going to get married. The kiddo asked if we could stay and watch, but I said she was just getting her picture taken and would probably get married later if she hadn't already. He studied her for a moment before we walked away, then asked, " she wearing shorts under that big dress?" I said no, grownup ladies usually don't wear shorts under their dresses. "Oh," he said, thinking for a minute, "so if her dress went up or something, all that private stuff would be there underneath?" I tried not to laugh, and said no, she was probably wearing underpants. "Ah!" he said. "Right! Underpants!" ;^)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Trouble at Tee-Ball

I never know what to say (or if I should say anything) when meanness catches me off guard. One kid on my son's tee-ball team is having a miserable time. He's not very coordinated, and he often sits or lies down on the field during games. The coaches (the kiddo's dad included) take turns cheering him on and literally picking him up, but the kid obviously doesn't want to be there. His mom, however, really wants him to be there, and she's constantly yelling at him in front of everyone. I've even seen her push her son when he's standing near the dugout, looking lost and uninterested. "Get out there already!" she'll shout, shoving her son toward the field. I know I'm not the only one who notices this. Granted, there's probably a lot more to the story than what we all see. I don't know what other problems or stresses this family has. I don't know what this kid's history is. I don't know a lot of things. All I know is that I feel extremely sad when I see this woman treat her son the way she does.

At yesterday's tee-ball game, a player's sibling fell and skinned her knee. I volunteered our first aid kit, which I'd brought only because my son had skinned his elbow at the previous game and the coach's first aid supplies had seen better days. Plus, I'm great at 20/20 hindsight! :-) Anyway, the injured girl was wailing and obsessing over her skinned knee, and her mom bandaged her up, reassuring her that yes, she could bend her knee, and yes, she could still walk, and yes, it sure hurt at the moment but she would be okay, and before long the girl was playing with the other kids and all was well. After the game, in a "kids will be kids" kind of way, the girl's mom said her daughter always obsesses over injuries; another mom mentioned that her son does that, too, so she just puts him on the phone with his grandma when that happens, and Grandma distracts him with pleasant chitchat during the bandaging process. "Great idea!" someone said.

Mean Mom heard us and chimed in: "When my son does that, I just pinch him hard on his arm and tell him, 'See? Now your knee won't bother you so much!'" She seemed serious.

The rest of us were speechless.

After everyone else packed up their gear and headed for home, my kiddo stayed on the field with his dad, hitting easy pitches and gathering up foul balls. I cheered him on and we stayed until the kiddo seemed to get a little tired. I hugged him afterward, then we all walked to the parking lot together and I kissed him before he rode off with his dad, to a house where I knew he'd get lots of hugs, a yummy supper, a warm bath, a little video game time, more hugs and a snuggle before bedtime.

I'm still wondering what that other kid went home to.