Gut Rumbles

April 30, 2003

changing times

I received another email from Smiling Dave today that echoed something that has puzzled me for a while now. He wrote:

"One of our guys showed up about a half hour late to work today. As he was about to depart his home, he spotted some trouble on his block. A twelve year old boy had poured something flammable on his nine year old sister and set her on fire.

Our guy got over there quickly, grabbed the girl, and smothered the flames. She had only minor burns (none disfiguring); but was badly frightened). It took the guy a little while to get the child to her mother and to explain what had happened, so he was late coming in. (No problem. We are not clock watchers here.)

He was talking about it to a few of us, and somebody made a comment about the vicious little shit who did the deed. The guy said, "Aw hell. Don't you remember when you were twelve?" He said it in such a matter of fact and accepting way that it sent a chill through me. What's worse, the other guys present seemed to find his comment unremarkable. It got me to wondering what the hell has been done to us that a homicidal juvenile doesn't even upset us much? When did we all stop protecting children and decide that they'd just have to take their chances, when it comes to living long enough to reach adulthood? And why aren't pint-sized monsters like today's detected early and put where they can't do any more damage?"

I see it this way, Dave: A society GETS MORE of the lowest kind of behavior it is willing to TOLERATE.

Too many parents want to be their child's "friend" instead of a mentor and a disciplinarian. Schools teach "self-esteem" whether the kid deserves any or not. We have bureaucratic minions of the State ready to prosecute a parent as a "child abuser" for taking a belt to a well-deserving rump. Outraged lawyers sue when Little Johnny is called a "pint-sized monster," even if he IS one.

We accept unacceptable behavior today because we are taught not to be "judgmental" in a thousand insidious ways. As a result, we generate more and more unacceptable behavior because WE ACCEPT IT, rather than be judgmental.

Yeah, I remember when I was twelve. By then, I had experienced a rich multitude of butt-whippins from both my mother and my father, who used whatever weapon was handy at the time, when they believed that I strayed from the path they expected me to walk. They steered me back on course with blows to my young ass. I had judgmental parents. They had rules.

They were cheered and respected by other parents, too, as well as teachers and principals. If I screwed up in school, the teachers didn't have to discipline me. All they had to do was CALL MY PARENTS. They would handle the problem from there. My parents did not accept unacceptable behavior. As a result, I grew up flying right. About the biggest trouble I ever got into in my youth was a couple of fights on the school bus.

Very few people raise their children that way anymore. The parents aren't judgmental and they don't make rules. They let the kids make the rules.

That's why you have a 12 year-old setting his sister on fire. I'll bet he gets a real, loving discussion about how wrong it is to "act out" as a result, too, and then some anger-management classes.

That'll teach him.



I would BEG people not to tell my parents. I remember I got in trouble at school for something I didn't do. I explained that to my father, and his response was "if you were one of the good kids, she wouldn't even suspect you, would she?". I got my ass beaten that time, too. I was pissed at how unfair that was, but now, at 34 years old, I realize how right he was.

Posted by: Geoffrey on April 30, 2003 04:32 PM

Good gawd. You said a mouthful, Acidman. I agree, completely.

Do you think it's a good thing that my boys (15 and 12) are still frightened of my wrath (even though the 15 year-old is taller than me)?

You're DAMNED right it is.

You explained, in a short essay, what I think is WRONG with things 'round here.

Way to go.

Posted by: margi on April 30, 2003 04:45 PM

Being hard-nosed about your kid's behavior pays off such huge rewards that sometimes I don't understand how people can be any other way.

I get compliments on their behavior and they know I'm proud of them. And my story: you know you are winning when your young teen's first response to seeing someone mis-behave is a shocked "my mother would *never* allow that!"

Posted by: Susan on April 30, 2003 05:31 PM

Or that kid will eventually be diagnosed with the phantom ADHD (um, aren't ALL kids are hyper active?) and given large doses of Ritalin.

My folks used to make me walk out to a large willow tree in our backyard to choose my "switch" for an ass whuppin' when I got out of line. If I didn't bring one back that was of satisfactory size, I'd get twice as many from one that they picked. Believe me, the walk to that tree was always terrifying.

Posted by: Marcl on April 30, 2003 06:41 PM

That walk to thr tree made you think twice before you fucked up again, too, didn't it?

Posted by: Acidman on April 30, 2003 06:59 PM

I remember those walks to the willow, although my Mom tended to favor a wooden spoon.

I grew up in the same day and age as the Acidman. As much as it pains me to say so, HIllary Clinton wasn't all that wrong with the statement of "It takes a village to raise a child," but not for the reasons she supposed. If one of our neighbors caught any kid misbehaving they first yelled at you to knock it off, and expected immediate compliance, followed by "I'm calling your mother." Man, that was one long walk/bike ride home, because you knew what was coming. There was no court of higher appeal for the charge of "Mrs. Johnson saw you doing...."

The schools get a bum rap in a lot of this. My wife teaches, and she would love to be able to simply teach kids. Believe me, the touchy-feely crap is not universally supported by the teacher in the classroom. That nonsense is the school administrators trying to avoid lawsuits. Unfortunately, when a teacher attempts to hold a kid accountable for their work or actions, the frequent response of the kid's parents is that the teacher is being unreasonable, doesn't understand my child's special problem, etc. It only gets worse in high school as parents begin to place more emphasis on a kid's extracurricular activity, including working a job, than on their education. Parents who complain about public education should look in the mirror if they want to know why our education system is in trouble. They have the system they demanded. It used to be expected that a student came to school to learn academics, the parents having taken care of their behaviour. The public education system now is expected to be teacher, parent, moral and ethical instructor, and serve as day care. Of course, the school isn't allowed to mention religious precepts to demonstrate or reinforce ethical or moral behaviour.

Just for example, here in Idaho, the schools are mandated to teach a unit on Martin Luther King. They are not mandated to teach about ANY other American leader. Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, or Madison are nice if we can get ot them, have to teach Dr. King though. Is that screwed up or what?

Posted by: Gene K on April 30, 2003 09:06 PM

The guy should have put out the fire, then shot the little psycho who did it.

Sometime, in the not-too distant future, this little fuck is going to be a headline news item, and it won't be pleasant.

You heard it here first.

Posted by: Kim du Toit on May 1, 2003 12:44 AM

I guess I grew up in the same period as acidman too. I got my @$$ whipped by leather belts, hair brushes, peach tree limbs, rifle straps and sometimes just the bare hand. I don't know what I would have turned out to be if the discipline hadn't been there. When I was about 7 or 8 years old I got SEVEN , count them 7 whippings in the same day for the same thing. Talk about a boneheaded kid!
The problem today is there is no way to enforce your word, they have taken the legality of action out of disciplining kids. So adults have been turned into talking heads when it comes to kids. I guess when the 'state' finally adjudicates that parents are incompetent to raise their own kids, you won't have to worry about the village raising the child, they will be coming for them and doing it for them. My father predicted this back in the 1960's, I'm glad he's not here to see just how right he might end up to be.

Posted by: Quark2 on May 1, 2003 12:44 AM

I raise my children like I used to raise my dogs. When the pups would eat trash, go in the road, or mess the carpet, I would beat them just short of their lives. As grown dogs, they obeyed every command, and rarely screwed up. Not a perfect analogy, but I think you get the point.

Posted by: Dax Montana on May 1, 2003 01:45 AM

There's no discipline anymore. Kids can do what they like, and parents don't give a damn. Kids don't have to respect anyone else, and if another adult gives them a clip around the ear, the kid'll probably run back to his parents crying, and they'll call the police to report that someone assaulted their child. Such children turn into delinquents, vandals and criminals.

Ten years ago in Britain, two ten-year old boys abducted a two-year old boy from a shopping centre, took him to some railway tracks and murdered him by beating him to death.

I shit you not. Go have a look at,3332,195312,00.html

Both boys were troublemakers, yet nothing was done to reign them in and, as a result, they ended up murdering a toddler. Personally, I think that their parents share the responsibility.

My Dad's a teacher and he used to wallop me. Furthermore, he explicitly gave my teachers permission to wallop me if I got out of line. Didn't do me no harm. I don't need therapy. I'm not a criminal. I have a good job and I'm a productive member of the community.

I say, if a kid gets out of line, wallop him.

Posted by: Jack on May 1, 2003 04:38 AM

You should see my 5' 4" wife scolding my 21-year old 6' 8" stepson. You can tell we rasied him right. Get your bluff in when they're young and they're believers for life.

Posted by: Gramps on May 1, 2003 08:19 AM

Kim took the words out of my mouth. Smilin' Dave should get the name of this kid and put it away for about ten years - which is about when he should graduate from setting his sister on fire to gutting her like a perch, then the papers can all cry and say "he seemed like such a nice boy!"

And how much do you want to bet that this inhuman monster didn't receive so much as a light tap on the wrist for fear DSS would take him away? Hell, if that were my son, I'd bash him in th head with a two-by-four, set HIM on fire and call DSS to cart his remains away.

Yeah, I'd end up in jail, but at least I'd have saved others from being killed.

Posted by: Ripper on May 1, 2003 12:24 PM

I definitely grew up in the same era as Acidman. I'm still shocked when I see kids get away with some of the crap they do. My dad would have knocked my head to the back of beyond if my sibs and I if we had behaved as badly.

Sadly, the lack of emphasis on respect for other people [and their belongings], good manners, etc., have bred a generation where proper behavior is the exception, not the rule.

Posted by: Miliana on May 1, 2003 01:02 PM

Getting hit with a hairbrush, getting our mouths washed out with soap ... the dread building up after the school or other parents called our parents and we had to sit around waiting for the parents to show up ...

none of it was fun, which is why we didn't act out much.

Posted by: dragonfly jenny on May 1, 2003 02:13 PM

I still remember when I shot my little sister 3(!!!) times with a Red Ryder BB gun. I was 12. Not only did I lose BB gun priviledges for about 6 months, mom broak a yardstick on my ass, then switched to a belt. It didn't help when sis ran in yelling "Don't break the stick on him mom, all he did is shoot me!"

That's when mom grabbed the belt.

I deserved all I got and much much more.

Posted by: Eichra Oren on May 1, 2003 03:11 PM


Posted by: BARBARA on May 1, 2003 09:01 PM

So how does this explain Acidman's crotchety-bastard behavior? :-)

Posted by: Dean Esmay on May 7, 2003 01:10 PM

I see this all too often in many - even small - ways.

Example: At a recent 2nd grade school potluck the child in line in front of us pawed bare-handed through the chicken picking up and replacing pieces until she found the Right One. The parent just looked on without comment.

Another parent stood by while another kid loaded up on a plate full of cookies (I later saw the kid dump all but one in the trash).

I won't go into the hands used to get salad method with parent saying "no" three times while still allowing it to happen then walked off.

This is a private school, not that I'm implying it is better, it's just that would might not expect to see this there.

Where are parents heads?

Posted by: Jonathan on May 7, 2003 03:10 PM

I worked in child welfare for five years, and I was appalled that our agency fought so hard to keep parents from (continuing to) spank their children for their misdeeds. My goodness, had I not been spanked or kissing concrete for some of the dumb shit I did or started to do, I wouldn't be alive and/or walking the streets as a free, sane person today.

If these little brats can bully their parents and school officials who won't lay down the law with them, what's to stop them from terrorizing their siblings and peers? Perhaps the child in question in this story will get a cookie every time he doesn't set his sister on fire again. Ugh.

Posted by: Dawn on May 7, 2003 06:12 PM

i agree with you all that discipline is important, and that spanking or hitting is necessary sometimes, but, in my experience, it can easily be taken too far. the reason the social service agencies are so paranoid about preventing parents from hitting their kids is because they don't really have the ability to distinguish consistently between abuse and normal physical discipline.

for the record, im 17, and my dad or mom hit me when i was a kid- with their hand, but hard enough to make their point. all of which is fine and good, except that now that they have to deal with my slightly developmentally disabled sister, they've escalated their hitting to a rather abusive level, and have begun to use other implements to hit her. so... it's easily, all too easily taken too far, which is why i think we should be wary of approving of parents hitting their kids in anger, or with anything but their hand.

Posted by: T.S. on May 8, 2003 05:07 PM

i volunteer with a Domestic Violence center...and the ladies there (all extremely nice) FORBID mothers from spanking their children at the shelter.

I spent a good part of an hour explaining to them the difference between abuse and discipline, but they couldn't see it.

The only thing that kept me from becomming a career criminal was the fear of a spankin'.

My dad had what you would call "closing speed", and I'm a better man for it.


great post by the way

Posted by: michael on May 8, 2003 06:07 PM

Hi Acidman,

While I would agree that parents should not be their children's "friend" I would beg to differ about the use of force against a child. I myself was raised by two loving parents who never laid a hand on me and I never got in serious trouble at school or anywhere else.

However, my father was a Sgt Major in the Australian Special Forces who knew how to use his voice!! I always feared his wrath. As for my mother, whenever she said "Your father's going to hear about this!!" it was enough said.

Posted by: Brian on May 9, 2003 07:35 AM

I'm sorry, I can't help but point out the hypocrisy of a few of the statements written here. Kim, Ripper - you say that you were beaten/hit/wupped as kids and it made you better members of society but then you turn around and say that the kid who lit his sister on fire should be shot, killed, beaten to a pulp etc. Do you see no irony in your statements?? It just seems to me that the violence you received as kids has just made you immune to the use of extreme violence.

Of course this child needs some serious corrective discipline (and should be taken away from his inept parents) - but the use of extreme violence to answer HIS use of violence will just reinforce the concept that to get by in the world thats how things are done - and he WILL turn into a big monster.

Posted by: Brian on May 9, 2003 07:58 AM

I don't believe in spanking. I think it teaches kids to resolve problems by using physical force. I also think the impulse to spank is primarily one related to release of anger, and that few parents who spank can honestly say their emotions are completely under control at the moment they spank. I agree that children need discipline, but to me discipline is primarily an ongoing way to teach your child the proper way to behave, not a punitive response to an undesireable action. Consequences are important and a critical piece of discipline, but the harder part is the stuff you do on an everyday basis that teaches a child how to be self-disciplined. That's what we want, after all - a child who learns to control himSELF eventually and grows into a responsible adult. It is much easier to whack a kid than to truly teach discipline. My final comment: it is very easy to criticize other people's parenting. I knew everything about parenting - until I became a parent myself and realized that I was dealing with another human being, not a dog.

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