Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Spare The Rod, Or I'll Hit You With It Myself

Come to Six Flags Over-Mid America and enjoy all our rides and shows. Enjoy all our comfort food and ice cream. Try your skill in the Games sections. But don't ever, ever beat your children in front of me.

I see it more than once. And when I do see it, I see it egregiously.

Most of the time, parents just yell at their children. Or one parent yells, and then another parent yells at the other parent for yelling at their children in public, swearing at the other parent in the process.

One time, a child cries in front of a Skee-Ball ticket counter, and a parent lifts him up by one arm to swat his behind several times before letting him fall to the cement floor in a heap of agony. The parent does this over and over again until the child lies in a fetal position.

"Where's my camcorder?" I whisper to a co-worker. "I'm gonna bust these people for child abuse."

The irony is, there's no good way to do that. The park has lines for security and anonymous tips if we spot guests behaving badly, but suspected child abuse is touchy. If I falsely accuse a guest, it comes back to bite my behind, and then I'm open to legal or disciplinary action if I'm wrong.

I should've reported it to a foreperson, quietly. I didn't, and I still wish I had to this day. I really wanted to confront this parasite of a parent and bellow, "You are a guest in this park! That means we don't have to watch you exercise corporal punishment before a live audience! Beat that child one more time and I'll shove my quarter rolls down your throat!"

We are still years away from the see-something-say-something era of self-policing. I probably had the final mentality of "it's none of my business; it's a parent punishing a bratty kid."

Years later, in the news business, I'll hear about parents arrested for public spanking. Mom or Dad's charges go away, but the humiliation doesn't. Whether the kids straighten up or run wild is left to speculation.

Nowadays, I probably won't call the cops on you. But kindly beat your children someplace else.

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