Friday, April 11, 2008
Can I just talk to yâ€™all one villager to another? I know the saying, â€œit takes village to raise a childâ€ sounds all good and profound in that wise-old-African-man kind of way, but Iâ€™m a little confused about its practical application these days. I think there seems to be a bit of confusion as to who are the village children and who are the village elders. For example, I was walking my dog Albert in the neighborhood when I came upon some kids walking down the streets towards me. They were singing â€œKevin and Nikki sitting in a tree, F-U-C-K-I-N-G.â€ Now while that is pretty appalling, as these were 9 and 10 year olds, it isnâ€™t as appalling as the fact that they were willing to say this right in front of an adult.
See, thatâ€™s the difference I see between kids today and when I was growing up. Im certainly not going to sit here all holier than thou like I was never a bad ass kid in my life. I played all the freaky games, tripped up other kids, and developed a shocking affinity for profanity around age 8. However, I would NEVER have considered using profanity around adults or doing any of my mischief in their presence. What happened to adult authority? What happened to kids being afraid of adults? The fact that these kids could care less about what they were saying and who heard them was really scary. And Iâ€™m sure we all have our similar stories. Weâ€™ve all been on the bus or subway with young people who have no qualms about loudly using cusswords or n-words or openly discussing their sexual exploits, both real and imagined. And whether itâ€™s the elderly, women, childrenâ€”they could care less who hears them.
However, that leads me to the â€œIt Takes A Villageâ€ paradox. Donâ€™t think this is just about the kids. A part of the problem, and likely the main part, is that us adults, the village elders, see all this going on and donâ€™t do a damn thing. Just like those kids I heard singing today, I didnâ€™t stop and chastise them and tell them that they should be ashamed of themselves, that they are bringing shame to their family, or that I was going to tell their daddy on them. I just kept walking shaking my head and being disgusted. But ultimately, like the passengers on buses and subways every day, I did nothing.
If it takes a village to raise a child and the village is afraid or indifferent, then arenâ€™t we fooling ourselves? But on the other hand, I cant be too hard on myself and the other village elders because the first time you attempt to correct a village child, their village mama is likely gonna beat your village ass.
I have a friend who was a teacher for a while who would speak of children whose parents never came to parent-teacher conferences, but let little Jamal get into trouble, then theyâ€™re the first ones up there ready to defend their child and say why everybody is wrong except little Jamal, when little Jamal probably just needs his ass beat. I remember in elementary school there was this one studentâ€™s mom who would come up to the school and beat his ass in front of the other students with her slipper. You can bet he didnâ€™t get in trouble too often.
After seeing that shocking video of the student beating up her teacher in Baltimore as the other students watched and recorded it their cell phones, I am more certain than ever that we are in deep trouble. I wish I knew the answer. Is it because weâ€™ve abandoned corporal punishment? Are we too busy being our childrenâ€™s friends and not their parents? With so many single parent homes, are parents just too busy to raise these kids right? Is it the lack of fathers in childrenâ€™s lives? (cause I know I was scared shitless of mine) Or maybe its our eternal catch-all scapegoats, hip-hop and BET? I just donâ€™t get it. What happened to so drastically change the child-adult dynamic in just one generation?
There have been instances in my city where parents have come to the school and gotten into fist fights WITH STUDENTS. The lunatics are running the asylum.
I just saw a Dr. Phil episode about out-of-control kids and he was talking about this technique of negotiating with children to get them to do what you want. I was like, â€œnegotiatingâ€????!!!!! What happened to, â€œbecause I said soâ€?
I admire you parents that are doing your job because it cannot be easy. These kids have influences and access that we didnâ€™t dream of 20 years ago. Keep up the good work. But by the looks of most kids these days, a lot of parents have dropped the proverbial ball. To you I say: Raise your damn kids!
So village, what is we gon do? Its like Lord of the Flies out here. The kids are running the show and we are scared to death of them. And I donâ€™t know what to do. I donâ€™t know what the answer is (which is nothing new). But what I do know is, for better or worse, I’m steering clear of these little fuckers before I end up getting my ass kicked on Youtube.