There was a time when a single word would strike mortal fear in the hearts and minds of young children. All a teacher or other adult had to do was threaten a child with that word and they would acquiesce to better behavior immediately. But in today’s world, that word often comes from somebody who is barely 15 years older than the child.
Years back, many of the young girls swept up in the teenage pregnancy epidemic declared they wanted to grow up with their child. Well 40 years later, that entire concept has become a boondoggle and a massive failure. You see, those girls never really grew up. Yes they got older, but their mindsets remained stuck in whatever vortex they were in as teens. Thus the word “parent” for them no longer symbolizes a responsible adult who has common sense, understanding and the best welfare of their child at heart. Instead, it is far too often applied in the literal sense, meaning that the person gave birth to the child but beyond that, there is no real concept of parenthood.
Those “adults” aren’t raising their children. They are not training them up in the way they should go. Rather, they supply the child’s superficial needs with things like designer clothing, fancy hairstyles and cellphones, but the training and raising of the child is left to happenstance, the schools and – more often than not – the streets.
This past week I had what I call my “annual right of cul-de-sac.” That’s when I or others members on my block, who have tired of the latest group of new children treating the cul-de-sac as their playground, go off. Now I’m not talking about children coming out with a rope and jumping, or children riding their bicycles in an endless circle. No, the play of these children normally involves swinging on trees, trying to pull the pillars out of the ground, rocking the traffic sign until it is loose in its base, eating and littering, running and trudging across our lawns, and my favorite pet peeve behavior of them all – wrestling, with boys tackling girls more for a free feel than for sport.
Par for the course, the “parents,” or perhaps I should say “mammies,” of those kids are quite willing to vocalize about their children’s right to play. Of course, those same mothers haven’t worked all day. They aren’t coming home drop-dead tired and not in the mood to hear the screaming and hollering that that “play” entails. For the most part, they probably just woke up around 3 in the afternoon and don’t want to be bothered with their own children. That’s the reason those very children aren’t involved in any sports or organized activities. Their “parents” send them to play in the streets as opposed to getting off their lazy butts and doing something for them.
Well, I am making it quite clear that I am standing up for my rights not to be bothered. I don’t want to hear the screams. I shouldn’t have to tolerate the bouncing of the ball when there is a sign saying “No ball playing allowed.” Why can’t I and other residents of Austin come home to peace and quiet as opposed to anarchy and noise?
As I write this column, Mayor Emanuel has announced that he is reassigning 1,000 officers to high-crime areas. My 25th Police District isn’t one of them. Still, I have a request to make to those reassigned officers: Sweat the small stuff. Those of us who have worked hard to keep a decent block know it is the small stuff allowed to fester that creates the bigger problem. Support those blocks when they need your help.
And while the police are at it, I hope they include some of my other peeves about this community: Jaywalking, littering, public urination, dope selling and drug using should be high on the priority list of unacceptable behavior. Correct the small problems and watch how the big problems will go away as well.