So I saw this article online about a child at a Yankees game who didn’t get to catch a ball tossed to the crowd during the 8th inning and started crying. OK, things like that happen. It turns out another couple did catch the ball. They felt great about it. Again, this is pretty normal. What isn’t normal, in my view, is when the play-by-play announcer, Michael Kay, reprimanded the couple who caught the ball and called them greedy for not giving it to the crying 3-year-old boy.
"Ahh, they can't give it to the kid," the commentator stated over the loudspeaker.
Wait now, back track, rewind.
Where does it say that any person catching a baseball must turn it over to a crying child?
Yes, I said to make matters worse.
Growing up I always learned that not everyone catches the ball. Not everyone is picked for the starring role in a play. Not everyone is invited to someone’s birthday party, and not everyone gets first place. That’s life.
When you are an adult, if someone else wins the lottery and you cry, does that mean that the lottery commission is obligated to pay you equal winnings? No.
When you go on a job interview, and the woman next to you gets the job and you don’t, if you throw a fit, does that mean that the company has to hire you, too? Absolutely not.
Life, is not fair.
When parents and society condone that if a child gets angry, cries, or throws a tantrum, they deserve whatever they didn’t get in the first place, that’s saying it’s ok to act and be spoiled.
When my daughter started school and I found out that a child cannot distribute invitations to a birthday party in their classroom unless they invite the whole class, I shook my head. Really? Well, maybe there are some parents that are fortunate enough to be able to have either the room or the finances to invited 20-something children to their child’s birthday party, but many parents do not have this ability–nor do they want to have this kind of a party.
Yes, we can circumvent those rules and send invitations in good old-fashioned snail mail to a child’s friends, or even via email ask if they’d like to come, but what are we teaching our children?
Teaching kids that everyone is included all of the time does not prepare them for the "real world"–after they are done with school.
I’ll give you another example–youth sports. There’s a winning team and a losing team. Winners get the trophies. At least that's how it was when I was a child. Now, no ... both teams get to take home trophies because otherwise the losing team’s feelings would be hurt.
Hurt feelings and disappointment is no fun, I’ll grant you that. But it also teaches children valuable lessons and learning that it’s OK to not be No. 1 all of the time and it’s OK not to come in first place. You can still have fun.
As a parent, if my child didn’t catch the baseball at the game, I would say “Well, maybe you will next time.” As a matter of fact, I have done just that at Somerset Patriots’ baseball games.
Doesn’t it make it more special when you catch that ball on your own? If someone hands it to you, what did you do for it? Get lucky? Cry? It can’t possibly give you the same feeling of pride to receive something just because you opened your big mouth.
As a byproduct, the couple that thought that they were making the 3-year-old boy feel better by giving him the ball they caught, just became unknowing accomplices in teaching this child that it’s OK to cry and have a tantrum when you don’t get your way, because if you do it, you will be rewarded for it.
Why not teach this little boy that baseball is fun because you are watching the game and having a great time with family and friends? He is learning that going to a game is only fun if you catch a ball!
I’ve had conversations with friends, who like me, have observed children in restaurants who won’t sit down, or who run around department stores pulling clothes off racks, while parents just look on hoping that staff will control their children’s antics. Too many parents take the easy way out and offer up a new toy for Johnny if he just waits five more minutes for mommy to pay at the checkout counter, or give Suzie some new stickers if she will just stay out of the waitress’s way. I’ve seen it. I shake my head. Who’s in charge here? Reward children for inappropriate behavior?
Tell your children to behave, or there will be consequences! Rewarding children for acting out in moments of boredom, disappointment or frustration builds a society of unruly children. There are so many more children now who run around town undisciplined than there were a generation or two ago. What happened to more parents taking charge?
Then, these children, being rewarded for bad behavior, enter the school system and the poor teachers have no control over them. The children don’t respond to the word “No” because they were never taught it at home.
I heard another great "school rule" the other day. Telling secrets is not allowed. Now you won’t find this in any handbook, but apparently, it’s something elementary school children are not supposed to do during school hours, because if you tell your best friend a secret, then the other children will feel left out if they don’t know what you just said, too.
(I’m shaking my head here at my desk as I type this.)
Johnny, Mary and Suzie, I’d like to be the first to tell you that it’s OK if your classmate doesn’t tell you something she whispered into Jimmy’s ear. You won’t simultaneously combust because you’re told not to be nosy. Steve and Jodi, no, you’re not invited to Katie’s birthday party. It might not be because she doesn’t like you. Maybe her parents can only afford to invite 10 people to Chuck E. Cheese and she had to narrow down the guest list. Or maybe, Katie doesn’t want to invite you because you pushed her down on the playground. It’s called karma.
The fact that this little boy at the Yankee’s game made headlines is preposterous to me anyway. Now, on top of him being rewarded a baseball for his outburst, he learned that if he acts up, he gets extra attention. He even gets to be on TV.
I can just see other children taking notes. When at a baseball game, if I don’t catch a ball, freak out. I will then get a ball, and become an instant star.
I can’t wait to see what they will be like as teens. Their mental message may be one of “Johnny asked Suzie to the prom. He didn’t ask me. I don’t have a date. It’s not fair. Let me tell my parents so they can hire an attorney to sue the school for discrimination, and get the prom abolished.”
What is this world coming to?
I repeat, life, is not fair, and that’s OK.