If I Knew Then What I Know Now: It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

TAGS: lessons learned, hard work, harry selkow, respect

elitefts™ Sunday Edition

The meaning of the proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" is simply that. It takes more than one person to teach a child the ways of life. A child comes upon many different experiences and circumstances during his life and often times is taught by someone else about the right and wrong things to do.

About a week ago, my son's hockey team met after their game for post-game awards like stars on the helmet. There was a young boy of eight or nine who wasn’t part of the team but was from another one. He was loitering with my son’s team. One coach—we'll call him Coach #1—asked the boy to leave because it was a “secret team meeting.” He wanted to keep the information for his team exclusively. The boy didn't move.

Another coach—Coach #2—asked the boy twice to move along. Again, the boy didn't budge. He squarely stood his ground. Yet another coach—Coach #3—asked the boy two more times to move away but still the boy didn't make any motion to oblige.

Seeing all this, I took matters into my own hands to “help” the coaches get along with their post-game debriefing. I turned to the boy and said, “That’s a lot of requests you're ignoring. Time to bounce.”

To my surprise, he responded with a defiant, “No! I don’t have to!”

I've always been a man of swift and decisive action. I walked over, took the youngster by the back of his jersey, and asked him, “Where is your dad?”

Things were getting a bit heated. The boy spun from that jersey hold and attempted to “check” me over the hockey bags that were strewn about the rink. I'm not one who is easily moved, even by the largest of individuals. This 65-pound boy had little chance at such an endeavor. I reached out as he was approaching for his second try and took hold of the face cage on his helmet. With my “control the head and you control the beast” hold, I escorted him away to his father.

I handed the boy off, telling his dad that he was being belligerent and disrespectful and had tried to “check” me. I asked him to please take care of him. Back when I was a youth, if I had ever done such an act, the parent wouldn't have only escorted me to my parents, but he would've probably taken a couple swift shots as well. Then, upon the hand off to my own father, I would've received the working end of a 2 X 4, probably with a nail stuck in it. Under no circumstances would I have been allowed to disrespect an elder or authority figure.

Times have changed! I emailed the father that evening to check on the situation that had occurred. His reply was swift. "I’d like to meet you Wednesday night before practice." (What I heard was, "I want to meet you by the flag pole at 3:00 p.m.")

I wrote back, “I don’t think it would be wise to wait that long. Can we meet tomorrow?”

“No, I’m out of the area and won’t be back until late,” he replied.

At this point, I found the conversation to be amicable and didn't give it too much more thought, even though I wanted to make sure that the consequences for the boy were met with fairness to the degree of the crime. His dad wanted to keep it between just us. Well....some people can’t seem to stay out of other people’s business.

Someone saw my “escort” but didn't know the back story. From what it looked like, I had just “manhandled” a kid and that kid wasn't my own. In the eyes of this person, this was a classic case of the dreaded “child abuse” and the person reported the incident to the “league.”

I received a phone call from the chairman. He needed details of the “case.” I asked, “Case?” WTF does that mean? Do you people realize that I wasn't touching this kid’s person? I was holding him at arms distance by a piece of equipment. I was making sure that he didn’t go for the third attempt at a hockey “check.” Now, instead of a child being disciplined for insubordination, disrespect, and retaliation, I was being accused of a crime instead of applauded for helping to raise a child. If I didn’t care what happened to these young people, I would've remained silent and not cared, but instead, I took swift and immediate action.

Wednesday came and I met with both the boy and his dad. I asked the boy to tell his side of the story and recant the details. He conveniently left out the most important part as to why I had escorted him over to his dad.

When I “filled” in the details, the youngster didn't deny it, but instead of getting an apology, I got the warning, “Never touch another person’s kid.” Giving it some thought about how I wouldn’t want anyone touching or disciplining my son, I agreed, and I (yes, me, not the youngster) did the apologizing to defuse the situation and put it to rest.

Then I thought about it some more. My boy wouldn’t be in that predicament. My son knows respect and listens. My son wouldn't even attempt to take the insubordinate route, and I’ve never had to even touch my own kid.

If I fast forward ten years, what will happen to this boy if a police officer tells him to move along from an area and he responds with “no, I don’t have to”? Will his mother and father be able to get the officer to apologize for handcuffing the kid and whisking him off to jail? What lessons did this child learn from all this? That it’s OK to be defiant and not listen to coaches or adults? That he's a victim of the entitled era?

Some people may disagree with what I did. That’s fine. I’ve been coaching for more than 35 years, and I have players from that long ago call me today and say “thank you” for taking a “hard line” with them. They tell me that it straightened them out like no one else did or cared.

What lesson did I learn from all this? Protect your own and some people should've been swallowed instead of born. We are doomed by the “pussification” and the “entitled” in this country. Mad Dog Mattis said it best: “Be polite, be professional, and have a plan to kill everyone.”

Sorry, next kid who I barely know. Your life is ef’d with the parents you have.

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